Optimal strategies for identifying kidney disease in diabetes: properties of screening tests, progression of renal dysfunction and impact of treatment -systematic review and modelling of progression and cost-effectiveness

Authors: Farmer AJ, Stevens R, Hirst J, Lung T, Oke J, Clarke P, Glasziou P, Neil A, Dunger D, M Colhoun H, Pugh C, Wong G, Perera R, Shine B

Journal: Health Technology Assessment Volume: 18 Issue: 14

Publication date: March 2014

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3310/hta18140


Farmer AJ, Stevens R, Hirst J, Lung T, Oke J, Clarke P, et al.Optimal strategies for identifying kidney disease in diabetes: properties of screening tests, progression of renal dysfunction and impact of treatment -systematic review and modelling of progression and cost-effectiveness. Health Technol Assess 2014;18(14)

Download: Citation (for this publication as a .ris file) (9.0 KB)

Journal issues* can be purchased by completing the form.

The cost of reports varies according to number of pages and postage address. The minimum cost for a copy sent to a UK address is £30.00. We will contact you on receipt of your completed form to advise you of actual cost. If you have any queries, please contact nihredit@southampton.ac.uk.

*We regret that unfortunately we are unable to supply bound print copies of Health Technology Assessment published before issue 12:31. However, PDFs are available to print from the "Downloads" tab of the issue page.


No responses have been published. If you would like to submit a response to this publication, please do so using the form below.

Comments submitted to the NIHR Journals Library are electronic letters to the editor. They enable our readers to debate issues raised in research reports published in the Journals Library. We aim to post within 2 working days all responses that contribute substantially to the topic investigated, as determined by the Editors.

Your name and affiliations will be published with your comment.

Once published, you will not have the right to remove or edit your response. The Editors may add, remove, or edit comments at their absolute discretion.

Post your response



Middle Initial

Occupation / Job title

Affiliation / Employer



Other authors

For example, if you are responding as a team or group. Please ensure you include full names and separate these using commas

Statement of competing interests

We believe that readers should be aware of any competing interests (conflicts of interest).

The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) define competing interests as including: financial relationships with industry (for example through employment, consultancies, stock, ownership, honoraria, and expert testimony), either directly or through immediate family; personal relationships; academic competition; and intellectual passion.

If yes, provide details below:

Enter response title

Enter response message


Security key

Regenerate security key

By submitting your response, you are stating that you agree to the terms & conditions

The online version of this issue is currently unavailable.
The PDF version is available from the downloads section of this page.



Annual screening for adults with type 2 diabetes to detect the early onset of kidney disease is widely recommended, but the recommendations are based on a limited methodological approach. In addition, there are continuing uncertainties about underlying rates of progression of the condition and the benefits of treatments with angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers.


We aimed to estimate the clinical value and cost-effectiveness of different screening intervals to diagnose early diabetic kidney disease.

Data sources

We used the following databases for the literature review (searched January 2005 to August 2010): MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Individual patient data were obtained from the Oxford Regional Prospective Diabetes Study and the Collaborative Atorvastatin Diabetes Study.


Data from systematically identified randomised trials reporting the impact on renal outcomes of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin 2 receptor blockers for type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients with normoalbuminuria and microalbuminuria were pooled to derive estimates of effect. Individual patient data for type 1 and type 2 diabetes patients were used to obtain parameters describing progression and variability of measurement over time for the albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR) and estimated glomerular filtration rate. Based on accepted diagnostic thresholds, we modelled whether these tests accurately identified patients who were developing early diabetic kidney disease and required intensification of treatment. Cost-effectiveness analyses were carried out using simulation outcome models to estimate the incremental costs per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) for different screening intervals.


In total, 49 trials (n = 34,082 patients) were eligible for inclusion in the systematic review. For type 1 diabetes, pooled estimates of urinary albumin excretion (UAE) for treated patients with microalbuminuria were on average 67% [95% confidence interval (CI) 54% to 77%] lower at the end of the trial than for untreated patients. There was no significant treatment effect for patients with normoalbuminuria (p interaction = 0.006). For treated patients with type 2 diabetes and normoalbuminuria or microalbuminuria, UAE was lower by, on average, 21% (95% CI 97% to 32%) or 27% (95% CI 15% to 38%), respectively. The proportion (95% CI) of men and women with type 1 diabetes screened annually for microalbuminuria over 6 years and inaccurately identified as having microalbuminuria would be 48% (43% to 53%) and 55% (48% to 61%), respectively. The corresponding proportions for type 2 diabetes are 36% (32% to 42%) and 48% (41% to 55%). Decreasing the screening interval to 3-yearly would reduce this for men with type 1 diabetes to 38% (33% to 44%), with an increase in those not identified over 6 years from 1.5% (95% CI 1% to 2%) to 4% (95% CI 3% to 5%). For type 1 diabetes, incremental cost per QALY [standard deviation (SD)] of a 5-yearly compared with a 4-yearly screening interval was £3612 (£6586), increasing to £9601 (£34,112) for annual compared with 2-yearly screening. The probability that the intervention is cost saving is around 25%, and it has around an 80% chance of being below a cost-effectiveness threshold of £30,000. For type 2 diabetes, incremental cost per QALY (SD) of a yearly compared with a 2-yearly screening interval was £606 (£1782). The intervention is almost certainly below a cost-effectiveness threshold of £5000.


These results support current UK guidance, which recommends annual screening with ACR to identify early kidney disease in patients with diabetes, despite a high false-positive rate leading to, at worst, unnecessary or, at best, early therapeutic intervention. For type 1 diabetes, screening costs for annual compared with 2-yearly screening are well within the bounds of accepted cost-effectiveness. Annual screening is even more cost-effective in type 2 diabetes than in type 1 diabetes. Identification of alternative markers for developing diabetic nephropathy may improve targeting of treatment for those at high risk.


The National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment programme.

Share this page

Email this page
Publication updates

If you would like to receive information on publications and the latest news, click below to sign up.