To examine the demographic characteristics of patients who underwent testing for Chlamydia trachomatis and to determine the clinical and behavioural characteristics and the types of treatment for those who had positive test results.Design
Rural county in Nova Scotia.Patients
All residents of the county for whom testing for C. trachomatis was ordered at the regional hospital from Sept. 1, 1990, to Mar. 31, 1991.Main outcome measures
Rates of testing and of positive test results by age and sex. Comparison of patient and physician characteristics in relation to testing rates.Results
Of the 1116 patients tested 58 (5.2%) had positive test results. Females accounted for 82.8% of those with positive results whose sex could be determined. Among the females the mean age of those with a positive result was 22.3 years, as compared with 27.5 years for those with a negative result (p 0.0001). Females 15 to 19 years of age were less likely to have a test performed than women 20 to 29 years and were more likely to have a positive test result than the women in the older groups. Almost 9% of the testing among the females was in those over 39 years of age, although no infection was seen in this age group. The number of tests ordered per general or family practitioner varied from 1 to 154; the physicians' sex, practice location and length of time in practice did not predict the rates of positive test results. Treatment was most often in keeping with that recommended by national guidelines. Four (8.5%) of the 47 patients with positive results who were interviewed were not aware of their diagnosis, either because they had not returned for follow-up or had not being notified by the physician's office.Conclusions
The frequency of testing for C. trachomatis infection may be less than is desirable among young patients, who, if tested, are more likely than older patients to have positive results. More understanding of the diagnostic approach taken by physicians is needed.