Safety and cost-effectiveness of individualised screening for diabetic retinopathy: the ISDR open-label, equivalence RCT

Broadbent, Deborah M., Wang, Amu, Cheyne, Christopher P., James, Marilyn, Lathe, James, Stratton, Irene M., Roberts, John, Moitt, Tracy, Vora, Jiten P. et al (2021) Safety and cost-effectiveness of individualised screening for diabetic retinopathy: the ISDR open-label, equivalence RCT. Diabetologia, 64 (1). pp. 56-69. ISSN 0012-186X

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Using variable diabetic retinopathy screening intervals, informed by personal risk levels, offers improved engagement of people with diabetes and reallocation of resources to high-risk groups, while addressing the increasing prevalence of diabetes. However, safety data on extending screening intervals are minimal. The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and cost-effectiveness of individualised, variable-interval, risk-based population screening compared with usual care, with wide ranging input from individuals with diabetes.
This was a two-arm, parallel-assignment, equivalence RCT (minimum 2 year follow-up) in individuals with diabetes aged 12 years or older registered with a single English screening programme. Participants were randomly allocated 1:1 at baseline to individualised screening at 6, 12 or 24 months for those at high, medium and low risk, respectively, as determined at each screening episode by a risk-calculation engine using local demographic, screening and clinical data, or to annual screening (control group). Screening staff and investigators were observer-masked to allocation and interval. Data were collected within the screening programme. The primary outcome was attendance (safety). A secondary safety outcome was the development of sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy. Cost-effectiveness was evaluated within a 2 year time horizon from National Health Service and societal perspectives.
A total of 4534 participants were randomised. After withdrawals, there were 2097 participants in the individualised screening
arm and 2224 in the control arm. Attendance rates at first follow-up were equivalent between the two arms (individualised screening 83.6%; control arm 84.7%; difference −1.0 [95% CI −3.2, 1.2]), while sight-threatening diabetic retinopathy detection rates were non inferior in the individualised screening arm (individualised screening 1.4%, control arm 1.7%; difference −0.3 [95% CI −1.1, 0.5]). Sensitivity analyses confirmed these findings. No important adverse events were observed. Mean differences in complete case quality adjusted life-years (EuroQol Five-Dimension Questionnaire, Health Utilities Index Mark 3) did not significantly differ from zero;

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