Disparities in chlamydia testing among young women with sexually transmitted infection symptoms

Sarah E. Wiehe, Marc B. Rosenman, Jane Wang, J. Dennis Fortenberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background: Diagnostic chlamydia testing is recommended for all young women demonstrating sexually transmitted infection (STI) symptoms. Differential testing among symptomatic women may contribute to disparities in chlamydia rates. Our objective was to determine whether providers test young women with STI symptoms for chlamydia differently by age, race/ethnicity, or insurance status, and whether testing patterns differ by documentation of previous STI. Methods: Retrospective cohort analysis using electronic medical records and billing data of women 14 to 25 years old with one or more diagnostic or procedure codes indicative of STI symptoms (N = 61,498 women). Random effects logistic regression analysis was performed to assess the odds of chlamydia testing given a woman presented for a nonpregnancy-related visit with STI symptoms. All analyses controlled for history of STI, setting, and year, and adjusted for within-person correlation. Results: A chlamydia test was performed in 38% of visits with codes indicating STI symptoms. Women aged <18 or >19 were less likely to be tested than women aged 18 to 19, with young women aged 14 to 15 having the lowest odds of being tested (Odd Ratio [OR]: 0.52). Providers were more likely to test minority (ORblack: 2.87; ORLatina: 2.10) compared with white women. Women were also more likely to be tested if they had public insurance (OR: 2.41) or were self-pay (OR: 2.35) compared with if they had private insurance. Women aged 14 to 15 and 16 to 17 with prior history of STI had increased odds of chlamydia testing (OR: 1.79 and 1.43, respectively) compared with women aged 18 to 19, changing the overall direction of association compared with women with no history of STI. The odds of testing were dramatically reduced for minority and nonprivately insured young women with history of STI, although significant differences persisted. Conclusions: Provider chlamydia testing differs by age, race/ethnicity, and insurance status when a woman presents with STI symptoms and no prior history of STI. This bias may contribute to higher reported rates of chlamydia among younger, minority, and poor women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)751-755
Number of pages5
JournalSexually Transmitted Diseases
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Dermatology


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