A scoping review of paediatric latent tuberculosis infection care cascades: initial steps are lacking

BMJ Glob Health. 2021 May;6(5):e004836. doi: 10.1136/bmjgh-2020-004836.


Background and objectives: Identifying and treating children with latent tuberculosis infection (TB infection) is critical to prevent progression to TB disease and to eliminate TB globally. Diagnosis and treatment of TB infection requires completion of a sequence of steps, collectively termed the TB infection care cascade. There has been no systematic attempt to comprehensively summarise literature on the paediatric TB infection care cascade.

Methods: We performed a scoping review of the paediatric TB infection care cascade. We systematically searched PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Cochrane and Embase databases. We reviewed articles and meeting abstracts that included children and adolescents ≤21 years old who were screened for or diagnosed with TB infection, and which described completion of at least one step of the cascade. We synthesised studies to identify facilitators and barriers to retention, interventions to mitigate attrition and knowledge gaps.

Results: We identified 146 studies examining steps in the paediatric TB infection care cascade; 31 included children living in low-income and middle-income countries. Most literature described the final cascade step (treatment initiation to completion). Studies identified an array of patient and caregiver-related factors associated with completion of cascade steps. Few health systems factors were evaluated as potential predictors of completion, and few interventions to improve retention were specifically tested.

Conclusions: We identified strengths and gaps in the literature describing the paediatric TB infection care cascade. Future research should examine cascade steps upstream of treatment initiation and focus on identification and testing of at-risk paediatric patients. Additionally, future studies should focus on modifiable health systems factors associated with attrition and may benefit from use of behavioural theory and implementation science methods to improve retention.

Keywords: child health; health systems; paediatrics; treatment; tuberculosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Latent Tuberculosis* / diagnosis
  • Latent Tuberculosis* / drug therapy
  • Latent Tuberculosis* / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis* / diagnosis
  • Tuberculosis* / drug therapy
  • Tuberculosis* / epidemiology
  • Young Adult