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Screening and Treatment of Latent Tuberculosis Among Patients Receiving Biologic Agents

A National and International Survey of Rheumatologists

Tran, Nhu Quynh PhD; Garcia-Rosell, Melinda MD; Pattanaik, Debendra MD; Raza, Syed Hasan MD; Carbone, Laura MD

JCR: Journal of Clinical Rheumatology: January 2017 - Volume 23 - Issue 1 - p 6–11
doi: 10.1097/RHU.0000000000000466
Original Articles

Objective We sought to understand the current practice patterns of both US and international members of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) in this regard.

Methods A set of questionnaires developed by a focus group of faculties and fellows of the Rheumatology Division of University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, was sent electronically using an online survey tool to 4433 rheumatologists who are ACR members in the United States and internationally.

Results Seven hundred sixty-eight physicians out of 4433 ACR members responded to the electronic survey, with a response rate of 17.32%. The preferred screening method by most of the respondents was either tuberculin skin test (19%) or interferon γ release assay (32%) or both. For treatment of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) overall, 49% of the respondents would refer management to infectious disease specialist or the health department, 37% would initiate isoniazid for 9 or 12 months, and 14% would use isoniazid for 6 months. Approximately 60% of respondents would initiate anti–tumor necrosis factor therapy after being on LTBI treatment for 1 month. The other respondents were almost equally divided among the 3 responses: 2, 3, 6, or 9 months.

Conclusions There is a large disagreement regarding the method used and how often to screen for LTBI after initiating biologic therapy and how soon biologic treatment would be started after initiating LTBI therapy. Another disagreement exists regarding the duration of LTBI therapy. The information obtained from the survey can be taken into account when ACR or other international member organizations formulate future recommendations regarding screening and treatment of LTBI.

From the *Preventive Medicine, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis; †Memorial Hospital, Chattanooga; and ‡Division of Rheumatology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN; and §Georgia Regents University, Augusta GA.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Correspondence: Syed Hasan Raza, MD, Division of Rheumatology, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, 956 Court Ave, Room G326, Memphis TN 38163. E-mail:;

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