Chlamydia diagnosis rate in England in 2012: an ecological study of local authorities

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Abstract

Objectives

Local authorities (LAs) in England commission chlamydia screening as part of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme. It is recommended that LAs achieve a chlamydia diagnosis rate of ≥2300 cases per 100 000 population aged 15–24. We describe national patterns in attainment of the chlamydia diagnosis rate recommendation and possible implications of using it to measure LA-level performance.

Methods

We used publicly available data sets from England (2012) to explore the association between LAs attaining the recommended chlamydia diagnosis rate and population size, socioeconomic deprivation, test setting and sex.

Results

We used data from 1 197 121 recorded chlamydia tests in females and 564 117 in males. The chlamydia diagnosis rate recommendation was achieved by 22% (72/324) of LAs overall (43% female population; 8% male population). LAs in the highest deprivation quintile were more likely to reach the recommendation than those in the least-deprived quintile for both sexes (women: unadjusted prevalence ratio (UPR) 7.43, 95% CI 3.65 to 15.11; men: UPR 7.00, 95% CI 1.66 to 29.58). The proportion of tests performed in genitourinary medicine clinics was negatively associated with attainment of the recommended diagnosis rate (UPR 0.95, 0.93 to 0.97).

Conclusions

Chlamydia diagnosis rate recommendations that reflect local area deprivation (as a proxy for disease burden) may be more appropriate than a single national target if the aim is to reduce health inequalities nationally. We suggest LAs monitor their chlamydia diagnosis rate, test coverage and test positivity across a range of measures (including setting and sex) and pre/post changes to commissioned services. Critical evaluation of performance against the recommendation should be reflected in local commissioning decisions.

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