Development of treatment-decision algorithms for children evaluated for pulmonary tuberculosis: an individual participant data meta-analysis

For this meta-analysis, we identified individual participant data from a WHO public call for data on the management of tuberculosis in children and adolescents and referral from childhood tuberculosis experts. We included studies that prospectively recruited consecutive participants younger than 10 years attending health-care centres in countries with a high tuberculosis incidence for clinical evaluation of pulmonary tuberculosis. We collated individual participant data including clinical, bacteriological, and radiological information and a standardised reference classification of pulmonary tuberculosis. Using this dataset, we first retrospectively evaluated the performance of several existing treatment-decision algorithms. We then used the data to develop two multivariable prediction models that included features used in clinical evaluation of pulmonary tuberculosis—one with chest x-ray features and one without—and we investigated each model’s generalisability using internal–external cross-validation.

The parameter coefficient estimates of the two models were scaled into two scoring systems to classify tuberculosis with a prespecified sensitivity target. The two scoring systems were used to develop two pragmatic, treatment-decision algorithms for use in primary health-care settings.

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