Arlington, Va. – The NACDS Foundation today announced the launch of its newest research initiative, Improving Access Project: Tuberculosis Testing and Latent Tuberculosis Infection Treatment in Community Pharmacies. The Foundation study, led by principle investigators at the University of New Mexico, is designed to evaluate the impact of expanding access to community testing for latent tuberculosis infections (LTBI). The study coincides with a recent recommendation from the United States Preventative Task Force advising that asymptomatic adults at higher risk for LTBI should be screened in primary care settings.
“This study exemplifies key goals of the NACDS Foundation because it seeks to evaluate the impact of enhanced patient access of TB testing on patient outcomes, by engaging healthcare partners to extend the fantastic work of the state health department.”
Tuberculosis (TB) testing and LTBI treatment are important public health services and have been the cornerstone of TB prevention in the United States. The goal of this collaborative project is two-fold: (1) to survey patients and understand their healthcare experience and perception of receiving TB testing in the community setting, and (2) to evaluate improved patient health outcomes and access to care when TB testing and LTBI treatment are provided in the community pharmacy setting. The study will explore models to increase patient access to tuberculosis skin tests and immediate follow-up treatment as an effort to limit transmission.
“This study exemplifies key goals of the NACDS Foundation because it seeks to evaluate the impact of enhanced patient access of TB testing on patient outcomes, by engaging healthcare partners to extend the fantastic work of the state health department,” said NACDS Foundation President Kathleen Jaeger.
The University of New Mexico has confirmed the participation of seven community pharmacies and will begin rolling out services in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M., as part of the study. Patients who seek care in participating sites will be counseled by trained pharmacists on risk factors and prevention and those with positive test results will enter directly observed therapy immediately after being referred to the New Mexico Department of Health Tuberculosis Program. A 12-week medication regimen and education plan will be provided for patients at no cost—patients will be able to choose whether to receive the treatment services at the health department or one of the participating community pharmacies.
A training program developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been administered by the New Mexico Department of Health to 43 healthcare professionals. The study will evaluate the ability of this model to increase patient screenings, treatment initiation and adherence rates. It will evaluate the number of patients screened, their demographics and test results. The study also will identify barriers to follow-up care. The study includes Spanish language consent forms and materials to expand access of prevention and treatment. The survey portion of the study is already underway, and to date, more than 100 patients who previously received a TB test in a pharmacy have consented to participate.
TB is a contagious and often severe airborne disease caused by infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) bacteria. People with LTBI infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms. The only sign of TB infection is a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test or TB blood test. Persons with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB infection to others. About 30 percent of people exposed to the bacteria that causes tuberculosis will develop LTBI. An estimated 10 percent of latent carriers will progress to active TB if they do not receive treatment. If not treated properly, TB can be fatal.
Approximately 12 million individuals in the United States currently have LTBI, which has the potential to develop into a widespread public health issue. This study’s focus on early identification and treatment is a necessary, timely response to an immediate public health need and has potential for broader replication, especially in rural areas impacted by barriers to healthcare.
The study is expected to conclude in September 2017.
More information about the NACDS Foundation and its focus on evidence-based research through strategic partnerships is available at NACDSFoundation.org.