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Clinicoecon Outcomes Res. 2012;4:91-7. doi: 10.2147/CEOR.S30547. Epub 2012 Apr 10.

Impact of screening and early detection of impaired fasting glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes in Canada: a Markov model simulation.

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Office of Biotechnology Genomics and Population Health, Public Health Agency of Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a major global health problem. An estimated 20%-50% of diabetic subjects in Canada are currently undiagnosed, and around 20%-30% have already developed complications. Screening for high blood glucose levels can identify people with prediabetic conditions and permit introduction of timely and effective prevention. This study examines the benefit of screening for impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and T2DM. If intervention is introduced at this prediabetic stage, it can be most effective in delaying the onset and complications of T2DM.


Using a Markov model simulation, we compare the cost-effectiveness of screening for prediabetes (IFG) and T2DM with the strategy of no screening. An initial cohort of normoglycemic, prediabetic, or undiagnosed diabetic adults with one or more T2DM risk factors was used to model the strategies mentioned over a 10-year period. Subjects without known prediabetes or diabetes are screened every 3 years and persons with prediabetes were tested for diabetes on an annual basis. The model weighs the increase in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) associated with early detection of prediabetes and earlier diagnosis of T2DM due to lifestyle intervention and early treatment in asymptomatic subjects.


Costs for each QALY gained were $2281 for conventional screening compared with $2890 for no screening. Thus, in this base-case analysis, conventional screening with a frequency of once every 3 years was favored over no screening. Furthermore, conventional screening was more favorable compared with no screening over a wide range of willingness-to-pay thresholds. Changing the frequency of screening did not affect the overall results. Screening persons without diabetes or prediabetes on an annual basis had small effects on the cost-effectiveness ratios. Screening with a frequency of once every 5 years resulted in the lowest cost per QALY ($2117). Lack of screening costs the health care system $4812 more than the cost of screening once every 5 years.


The increased cost per QALY of not screening is due to the costs of complications caused downstream of T2DM. By ensuring that IFG screening occurs every 3 years for those without prediabetes and every year for those with prediabetes, the health and financial benefits related to T2DM are improved in Canada.


Markov model; cost-effectiveness; economic analysis; quality-adjusted life-years; type 2 diabetes

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