Evaluating the Impact of a HIV Low-Risk Express Care Task-Shifting Program: A Case Study of the Targeted Learning Roadmap.


In conducting studies on an exposure of interest, a systematic roadmap should be applied for translating causal questions into statistical analyses and interpreting the results. In this paper we describe an application of one such roadmap applied to estimating the joint effect of both time to availability of a nurse-based triage system (low risk express care (LREC)) and individual enrollment in the program among HIV patients in East Africa. Our study population is comprised of 16,513 subjects found eligible for this task-shifting program within 15 clinics in Kenya between 2006 and 2009, with each clinic starting the LREC program between 2007 and 2008. After discretizing follow-up into 90-day time intervals, we targeted the population mean counterfactual outcome (i. e. counterfactual probability of either dying or being lost to follow up) at up to 450 days after initial LREC eligibility under three fixed treatment interventions. These were (i) under no program availability during the entire follow-up, (ii) under immediate program availability at initial eligibility, but non-enrollment during the entire follow-up, and (iii) under immediate program availability and enrollment at initial eligibility. We further estimated the controlled direct effect of immediate program availability compared to no program availability, under a hypothetical intervention to prevent individual enrollment in the program. Targeted minimum loss-based estimation was used to estimate the mean outcome, while Super Learning was implemented to estimate the required nuisance parameters. Analyses were conducted with the ltmle R package; analysis code is available at an online repository as an R package. Results showed that at 450 days, the probability of in-care survival for subjects with immediate availability and enrollment was 0.93 (95% CI: 0.91, 0.95) and 0.87 (95% CI: 0.86, 0.87) for subjects with immediate availability never enrolling. For subjects without LREC availability, it was 0.91 (95% CI: 0.90, 0.92). Immediate program availability without individual enrollment, compared to no program availability, was estimated to slightly albeit significantly decrease survival by 4% (95% CI 0.03,0.06, p<0.01). Immediately availability and enrollment resulted in a 7 % higher in-care survival compared to immediate availability with non-enrollment after 450 days (95% CI-0.08,-0.05, p<0.01). The results are consistent with a fairly small impact of both availability and enrollment in the LREC program on incare survival.

†Tran L
Yiannoutsos CT
Musick BS
Wools-Kaloustian K
Siika A
Kimaiyo S
van der Laan M
Petersen M
Publication date: 
December 12, 2016
Publication type: 
Journal Article