The therapeutic threshold in clinical decision-making for TB

Madeleine L de Rooij, Lutgarde Lynen, Tom Decroo, Aquiles R Henriquez-Trujillo, Tom Boyles, Bart K M Jacobs, Aquiles R. Henriquez-Trujillo

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Because TB control is still hampered by the limitations of diagnostic tools, diagnostic uncertainty is common. The decision to offer treatment is based on clinical decision-making. The therapeutic threshold, test threshold and test-treatment threshold can guide in making these decisions. This review summarizes the literature on methods to estimate the therapeutic threshold that have been applied for TB. Only five studies estimated the threshold for the diagnosis of TB. The therapeutic threshold can be estimated by prescriptive methods, based on calculations, and by descriptive methods, deriving the threshold from observing clinical practice. Test and test-treatment thresholds can be calculated using the therapeutic threshold and the characteristics of an available diagnostic test. Estimates of the therapeutic threshold for pulmonary TB from intuitive descriptive approaches (20%-50%) are higher than theoretical prescriptive calculations (2%-3%). In conclusion, estimates of the therapeutic threshold for pulmonary TB depend on the method used. Other methods exist within the field of decision-making that have yet to be implemented or adapted as tools to estimate the TB therapeutic threshold. Because clinical decision-making is a core element of TB management, it is necessary to find a new, clinician-friendly way to unbiasedly estimate context-specific, agreed upon therapeutic thresholds.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Health
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)615-622
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Clinical Decision-Making/methods
  • Humans


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