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Pediatrics. 2000 Sep;106(3):E32.

Testing for Chlamydia and sexual history taking in adolescent females: results from a statewide survey of Colorado primary care providers.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80220, USA.



Little is known about the practice patterns of primary care providers as they relate to assessing risk of and screening for chlamydial infections, an important cause of preventable reproductive morbidity in young women in the United States. The present cross-sectional study was undertaken to assess levels of chlamydia testing, sexual history taking, and prevention practices by Colorado primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants who provide gynecologic care to adolescent females (13-19 years old).


Between July 1998 and October 1998, an anonymous, self-administered questionnaire was mailed to a 25% random sample (n = 1265) of Colorado physicians (family practitioners, internal medicine specialists, obstetrician-gynecologists, and pediatricians), nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Practitioners were identified through professional organization membership, state-licensing bodies, and listings in the yellow pages.


After estimating the eligibility rate among non-respondents, the adjusted response rate was 71.5%. Only 53.8% of providers reported regularly testing sexually active female adolescents for chlamydia; 71.8% of providers regularly took a sexual history. Female providers reported significantly higher levels of regularly taking a sexual history (87. 2% vs 60.6% of males), feeling comfortable discussing sex (94.4% vs 77.8%), discussing sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention (81. 5% vs 71.3%), and testing for chlamydia (64.4% vs 38.6%). Among provider types, obstetrician-gynecologists, nurse practitioners, and pediatricians were most likely to report regularly taking a sexual history (90.1%, 88.6%, and 76.0%, respectively). Internal medicine specialists were the least likely to report taking a sexual history (43.9%). Pediatricians and nurse practitioners were the most likely to report testing sexually active adolescent females for chlamydia (74.1% and 70.1%, respectively), whereas physician assistants and internal medicine specialists were the least likely (46.0% and 38.5%, respectively). In multivariate analysis, variables independently associated with regularly taking a sexual history included female provider gender (odds ratio [OR]: 5.5; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 2.9-10.9), obstetrics/gynecology specialty (OR: 4.0; 95% CI: 1.7-10. 3; referent group: family practitioners), and provider comfort level in discussing sex (OR: 4.9; 95% CI: 2.3-11.1). Variables independently associated with regularly testing adolescent females for chlamydia included female provider gender (OR: 2.8; 95% CI: 1. 6-4.8), regularly discussing STD prevention (OR: 2.1; 95% CI: 1.1-4. 1), and regularly discussing limiting the number of patients' sex partners (OR: 2.4; 95% CI: 1.4-4.1).


Only a little over one half of providers (54%) reported regularly performing chlamydia tests on adolescent females who are sexually active by history. Because this falls well short of the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test all sexually active female adolescents, efforts are needed to improve STD clinical practices of Colorado physician and nonphysician providers of primary care for adolescent females. Particular efforts are needed to close the provider gender gap.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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