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Use of a primary care database to determine trends in genital chlamydia testing, diagnostic episodes and management in UK general practice, 1990–2004

Abstract

Objective: To determine the extent of testing, diagnostic episodes and management of genital Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) infection in UK primary care using a large primary care database.

Methods: The incidence of CT tests, diagnostic episodes, treatments and referrals was measured for all adult patients in the General Practice Research Database between 1990 and 2004.

Results: Rates of CT testing in those aged 12–64 years in 2004 increased to 1439/100 000 patient years (py) in women but only 74/100 000 py in men. Testing rates were highest among 20–24-year-old women (5.5% tested in 2004), followed by 25–34-year-old women (3.7% tested in 2004). 0.5% of registered 16–24-year-old women were diagnosed as having CT infection in 2004. Three-quarters of patients with a recorded diagnosis of CT had had an appropriate prescription issued in 2004, a proportion that increased from 1990 along with a decrease in referrals to genitourinary medicine. In 2004, general practitioners treated 25.0% of all recorded diagnoses of CT in women and 5.1% of those in men.

Conclusions: Testing for and diagnostic episodes of CT in primary care have increased since 1990. Testing continues disproportionately to target women aged >24 years. Extremely low rates of testing in men, together with high positivity, demonstrate a missed opportunity for diagnosis of CT and contact tracing in general practice.

  • CT, Chlamydia trachomatis
  • GP, general practitioner
  • GPRD, General Practice Research Database
  • GUM, genitourinary medicine
  • NCSP, National Chlamydia Screening Programme
  • OXMIS, Oxford Medical Information System
  • STI, sexually transmitted infection
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