Validity of self-reported history of Chlamydia trachomatis infection.
Chlamydia trachomatis infection is common and largely asymptomatic in women. If untreated, it can lead to sequelae such as pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. It is unknown whether a patient's self-reported history of Chlamydia trachomatis infection is a valid marker of past infection.OBJECTIVE
Our objective was to evaluate the validity of women's self-reported history of Chlamydia trachomatis infection compared with Chlamydia trachomatis serology, a marker for previous infection.STUDY DESIGN
We analyzed data from the Fertility After Contraception Termination study. We compared participants' survey responses with the question, "Have you ever been told by a health care provider that you had Chlamydia?" to serological test results indicating the presence or absence of antibodies to Chlamydia trachomatis as assessed by a microimmunofluorescence assay. Prevalence of past infection, sensitivity, specificity, predictive values, and likelihood ratios were calculated. The Cohen's kappa statistic was computed to assess agreement between self-report and serology.RESULTS
Among 409 participants, 108 (26%) reported having a history of Chlamydia trachomatis infection, whereas 146 (36%) had positive serological test results. Relative to positive microimmunofluorescence assay, the sensitivity and specificity of self-reported history of Chlamydia trachomatis infection were 52.1% (95% confidence interval, 43.6-60.4%) and 87.8% (95% confidence interval, 83.3-91.5%), respectively. The positive predictive value of the self-report was 70.4% (95% confidence interval, 60.8-78.8%), and the negative predictive value was 76.7% (95% confidence interval, 71.6-81.4%). The likelihood ratio was found to be 4.28. Agreement between self-report and serology was found to be moderate (kappa = 0.42, P < .001).CONCLUSION
Self-reported history of Chlamydia trachomatis infection commonly yields false-negative and false-positive results. When definitive status of past Chlamydia trachomatis infection is needed, serology should be obtained.