Glucose challenge test screening for prediabetes and early diabetes

S L Jackson, S E Safo, L R Staimez, D E Olson, K M V Narayan, Q Long, J Lipscomb, M K Rhee, P W F Wilson, A M Tomolo, L S Phillips
Diabetic Medicine: a Journal of the British Diabetic Association 2017, 34 (5): 716-724

AIMS: To test the hypothesis that a 50-g oral glucose challenge test with 1-h glucose measurement would have superior performance compared with other opportunistic screening methods.

METHODS: In this prospective study in a Veterans Health Administration primary care clinic, the following test performances, measured by area under receiver-operating characteristic curves, were compared: 50-g oral glucose challenge test; random glucose; and HbA1c level, using a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test as the 'gold standard'.

RESULTS: The study population was comprised of 1535 people (mean age 56 years, BMI 30.3 kg/m2 , 94% men, 74% black). By oral glucose tolerance test criteria, diabetes was present in 10% and high-risk prediabetes was present in 22% of participants. The plasma glucose challenge test provided area under receiver-operating characteristic curves of 0.85 (95% CI 0.78-0.91) to detect diabetes and 0.76 (95% CI 0.72-0.80) to detect high-risk dysglycaemia (diabetes or high-risk prediabetes), while area under receiver-operating characteristic curves for the capillary glucose challenge test were 0.82 (95% CI 0.75-0.89) and 0.73 (95% CI 0.69-0.77) for diabetes and high-risk dysglycaemia, respectively. Random glucose performed less well [plasma: 0.76 (95% CI 0.69-0.82) and 0.66 (95% CI 0.62-0.71), respectively; capillary: 0.72 (95% CI 0.65-0.80) and 0.64 (95% CI 0.59-0.68), respectively], and HbA1c performed even less well [0.67 (95% CI 0.57-0.76) and 0.63 (95% CI 0.58-0.68), respectively]. The cost of identifying one case of high-risk dysglycaemia with a plasma glucose challenge test would be $42 from a Veterans Health Administration perspective, and $55 from a US Medicare perspective.

CONCLUSIONS: Glucose challenge test screening, followed, if abnormal, by an oral glucose tolerance test, would be convenient and more accurate than other opportunistic tests. Use of glucose challenge test screening could improve management by permitting earlier therapy.

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