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Screening for gonorrhoea using samples collected through the English National Chlamydia Screening Programme and risk of false positives: a national survey of Local Authorities

Field, N; Kennedy, I; Folkard, K; Duffell, S; Town, K; Ison, CA; Hughes, G; (2014) Screening for gonorrhoea using samples collected through the English National Chlamydia Screening Programme and risk of false positives: a national survey of Local Authorities. BMJ Open , 4 (10) , Article e006067 . 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006067. Green open access

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To investigate use of dual tests for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae on samples collected through the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP) in England. DESIGN AND SETTING: During May-July 2013, we delivered an online survey to commissioners of sexual health services in the 152 upper-tier English Local Authorities (LAs) who were responsible for commissioning chlamydia screening in people aged 15-24 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: (1) The proportion of English LAs using dual tests on samples collected by the NCSP; (2) The estimated number of gonorrhoea tests and false positives from samples collected by the NCSP, calculated using national surveillance data on the number of chlamydia tests performed, assuming the gonorrhoea prevalence to range between 0.1% and 1%, and test sensitivity and specificity of 99.5%. RESULTS: 64% (98/152) of LAs responded to this national survey; over half (53% (52/98)) reported currently using dual tests in community settings. There was no significant difference between LAs using and not using dual tests by chlamydia positivity, chlamydia diagnosis rate or population screening coverage. Although positive gonorrhoea results were confirmed with supplementary tests in 93% (38/41) of LAs, this occurred after patients were notified about the initial positive result in 63% (26/41). Approximately 450-4500 confirmed gonorrhoea diagnoses and 2300 false-positive screens might occur through use of dual tests on NCSP samples each year. Under reasonable assumptions, the positive predictive value of the screening test is 17-67%. CONCLUSIONS: Over half of English LAs already commission dual tests for samples collected by the NCSP. Gonorrhoea screening has been introduced alongside chlamydia screening in many low prevalence settings without a national evidence review or change of policy. We question the public health benefit here, and suggest that robust testing algorithms and clinical management pathways, together with rigorous evaluation, be implemented wherever dual tests are deployed.

Type: Article
Title: Screening for gonorrhoea using samples collected through the English National Chlamydia Screening Programme and risk of false positives: a national survey of Local Authorities
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006067
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006067
Additional information: This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1452817
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