Cost-effectiveness of screening swab or urine specimens for Chlamydia trachomatis from young Canadian women in Ontario

Sex Transm Dis. 2001 Dec;28(12):701-9. doi: 10.1097/00007435-200112000-00007.


Background: Undetected and untreated Chlamydia trachomatis infections can result in a significant health burden. Diagnostic testing refers to tests performed on patients with symptoms, whereas screening refers to testing specimens in asymptomatic patients. The goal of diagnostic testing and screening programs are early identification of infections to prevent upper tract infection and transmission to other partners.

Goal: To compare the costs and outcomes of alternative diagnostic testing and screening programs for women ages 15 to 24 years in the province of Ontario, Canada.

Study design: Using outcome probabilities from the literature and a consensus group, together with the costs from insurance billing, a decision analytic model was constructed to determine the baseline risk of C trachomatis and related sequelae. Seven diagnostic testing and screening programs were compared over a 10-year period. The programs compared included the use of nucleic acid amplification assays collected from urine or endocervical swab specimens.

Results: Largely because of lower sensitivity the urine-based testing or screening programs were dominated by the swab-based programs. The move from swab-based testing to a swab-based screening program for high-risk women costs $1873 per case of C trachomatis averted. Expanding the program further to include all women in Ontario between 15 and 24 years of age is considerably more costly at $5990 per case averted.

Conclusions: It is more costly and more effective to screen and treat high-risk women ages 15 to 24 years for C trachomatis than to perform only swab-based diagnostic testing on symptomatic women. Expanding the screening program to include all women ages 15 to 24 years is considerably more expensive and only moderately more effective than screening only high-risk women.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Chlamydia Infections / microbiology
  • Chlamydia Infections / prevention & control*
  • Chlamydia Infections / urine
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / isolation & purification*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Trees
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / economics*
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Ontario
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease / microbiology
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease / prevention & control*
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease / urine
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Urinalysis / economics
  • Urinalysis / standards
  • Vaginal Smears / economics
  • Vaginal Smears / standards
  • Women's Health