A Cost Analysis of Universal versus Targeted Cholesterol Screening in Pediatrics

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Abstract

Objective

To compare the number of children needed to screen to identify a case of childhood dyslipidemia and estimate costs under universal vs targeted screening approaches.

Study design

We constructed a decision-analytic model comparing the health system costs of universal vs targeted screening for hyperlipidemia in US children aged 10 years over a 1-year time horizon. Targeted screening was defined by family history: dyslipidemia in a parent and/or early cardiovascular disease in a first-degree relative. Prevalence of any hyperlipidemia (low-density lipoprotein [LDL] ≥130 mg/dL) and severe hyperlipidemia (LDL ≥190 mg/dL or LDL ≥160 mg/dL with family history) were obtained from published estimates. Costs were estimated from the 2016 Maryland Medicaid fee schedule. We performed sensitivity analyses to evaluate the influence of key variables on the incremental cost per case detected.

Results

For universal screening, the number needed to screen to identify 1 case was 12 for any hyperlipidemia and 111 for severe hyperlipidemia. For targeted screening, the number needed to screen was 7 for any hyperlipidemia and 49 for severe hyperlipidemia. The incremental cost per case detected for universal compared with targeted screening was $1980 for any hyperlipidemia and $32 170 for severe hyperlipidemia.

Conclusions

Our model suggests that universal cholesterol screening detects hyperlipidemia at a low cost per case, but may not be the most cost-efficient way to identify children with severe hyperlipidemia who are most likely to benefit from treatment.

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