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Prospective external validation of the FluScore risk score for influenza in outpatients.

Family Practice 2024 March 12
BACKGROUND: Testing for influenza in patients with acute lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) is common and in some cases is performed for all patients with LRTI. A more selective approach to testing could be more efficient.

METHODS: We used data from two prospective studies in the US primary and urgent care settings that enrolled patients with acute LRTI or influenza-like illness. Data were collected in the 2016, 2019, 2021, and 2022 flu seasons. All patients underwent polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for influenza and the FluScore was calculated based on patient-reported symptoms at their initial visit. The probability of influenza in each risk group was reported, as well as stratum-specific likelihood ratios (SSLRs) for each risk level.

RESULTS: The prevalence of influenza within risk groups varied based on overall differences in flu seasons and populations. However, the FluScore exhibited consistent performance across various seasons and populations based on the SSLRs. The FluScore had a consistent SSLR range of 0.20 to 0.23 for the low-risk group, 0.63 to 0.99 for the moderate-risk group, and 1.46 to 1.67 for the high-risk group. The diagnostic odds ratio based on the midpoints of these ranges was 7.25.

CONCLUSIONS: The FluScore could streamline patient categorization, identifying patients who could be exempted from testing, while identifying candidates for rapid influenza tests. This has the potential to be more efficient than a "one size fits all" test strategy, as it strategically targets the use of tests on patients most likely to benefit. It is potentially usable in a telehealth setting.

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