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Ann Intern Med. 1998 Feb 15;128(4):277-84.

Screening for Chlamydia trachomatis in asymptomatic women attending family planning clinics. A cost-effectiveness analysis of three strategies.

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1
Johns Hopkins University, Division of Infectious Diseases, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Screening women for Chlamydia trachomatis in family planning clinics is associated with a reduced incidence of chlamydial sequelae. However, the question of whom to screen to maintain efficient use of resources remains controversial.

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the cost-effectiveness of chlamydial screening done according to three sets of criteria in asymptomatic women attending family planning clinics.

DESIGN:

Cost-effectiveness analysis done by using a decision model with the perspective of a health care system. Model estimates were based on analysis of cohort data, clinic costs, laboratory costs, and published data.

SETTING:

Two family planning clinics in Baltimore, Maryland.

PATIENTS:

7699 asymptomatic women who presented between April 1994 and August 1996.

INTERVENTION:

Three screening strategies--screening according to the criteria of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), screening all women younger than 30 years of age, and universal screening--were retrospectively applied and compared. All women were tested with polymerase chain reaction.

MEASUREMENTS:

Medical outcomes included sequelae prevented in women, men, and infants. Total costs included screening program costs and future medical costs of all sequelae. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of each strategy were calculated.

RESULTS:

Without screening, 152 cases of pelvic inflammatory disease would occur at a cost of $676,000. Screening done by using the CDC criteria would prevent 64 cases of pelvic inflammatory disease at a cost savings of $231,000. Screening all women younger than 30 years of age would prevent an additional 21 cases of pelvic inflammatory disease and save $74,000. Universal screening would prevent an additional 6 cases of pelvic inflammatory disease but would cost $19,000 more than age-based screening, or approximately $3000 more per case of pelvic inflammatory disease prevented. If the prevalence of C. trachomatis is more than 10.2% or if less than 88.5% of infections occur in women younger than 30 years of age, universal screening provides the greatest cost savings.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results suggest that age-based screening provides the greatest cost savings of the three strategies examined. However, universal screening is desirable in some situations. In general, screening done by using any criteria and a highly sensitive diagnostic assay should be part of any chlamydial prevention and control program or health plan.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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