Chlamydia: Pilot Study Compares Postal and Opportunistic Screening Strategies for STI
June 10, 2005
University of Glasgow researchers conducted a study to determine "whether opportunistic and postal screening strategies for Chlamydia trachomatis can be compared with usual care in a randomized trial in general practice," according to the report. The feasibility study for a randomized controlled trial involved 200 women, ages 16-30, from each of three general practices in western Scotland. One practice was rural, one urban/deprived, and one urban/affluent.
"The women could opt out of the study," A. Senock and colleagues wrote. "Those who did not were randomly assigned to one of three groups: postal screening [collection material and self-collected samples sent and returned by mail], opportunistic screening, or usual care."
The researchers reported that "38 percent (85 of 221) of the approached practices expressed interest in the study. Data were collected successfully from the three participating practices. There were considerable workload implications for staff. Altogether 124 of the 600 women opted out of the study."
"During the 4-month study period," the authors continued, "55 percent (81 of 146) of the control group attended their practice but none was offered screening. Some 59 percent (80 of 136) women in the opportunistic group attended their practice of which 55 percent (44 of 80) were offered screening. Of those, 64 percent (28 of 44) accepted, representing 21 percent of the opportunistic group. Forty-eight percent (59 of 124) of the postal group returned samples."
"A randomized controlled trial comparing postal and opportunistic screening for chlamydial infection in general practice is feasible, although resource intensive. There may be problems with generalizing from screening trials in which patients may opt out from the offer of screening," the investigators concluded.
The study, "Can We Evaluate Population Screening Strategies in UK General Practice? A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing Postal and Opportunistic Screening for Genital Chlamydial Infection," appeared in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (2005;59(3):198-204).
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