A retrospective cross-sectional study of patients treated in US EDs and ambulatory care clinics with sexually transmitted infections from 2001 to 2010☆

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Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are commonly seen in the ambulatory health care settings such as emergency departments (EDs) and outpatient clinics. Our objective was to assess trends over time in the incidence and demographics of STIs seen in the ED and outpatient clinics compared with office-based clinics using the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.


This study was conducted using 10 years of National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey data (2001-2010). We compared data from 2001-2005 to data from 2006-2010. Patients were included in analyses if they were 15 years and older and had an International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision code consistent with cervicitis, urethritis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, or trichomonas.


We analyzed 82.4 million visits for STIs, with 16.5% seen in hospital-based EDs and 83.5% seen in office-based clinics between 2001 and 2010. Compared with patients seen in office-based clinics, ED patients were younger (P< .05), more likely to be male (P< .001) and nonwhite (P< .001), and less likely to have private insurance (P< .05). We found a significant increase in adolescent (15-18 years) ED visits (P< .05) from 2001-2015 to 2006-2010 and a decrease in adolescent and male STI visits in office-based settings (P< .05).


Although patients with STI are most commonly seen in office-based clinics, EDs represent an important site of care. In particular, ED patients are relatively younger, male, and nonwhite, and less likely to be private insured.

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