Self-collected versus provider-collected vaginal swabs for the diagnosis of bacterial vaginosis: an assessment of validity and reliability

J Clin Epidemiol. 2003 Sep;56(9):862-6. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(03)00073-8.


Bacterial vaginosis (BV) in pregnancy is related to numerous adverse events; however, the validity of different methods of vaginal swab collection to diagnosis BV among pregnant women is unclear. This study examines the validity of self-collected compared with provider-collected vaginal swabs and describes the intra-rater and inter-rater reliability of BV assessment among a sample of pregnant women early in gestation. Gram-stain evaluation of vaginal samples using the Nugent criteria was conducted to determine the overall and morphotype-specific BV scores. We found strong validity for the overall and morphotype-specific scores comparing self-collected swabs to provider-collected swabs. In addition, we found excellent overall and morphotype-specific inter-rater reliability and excellent intra-rater reliability in our sample. These study results support the use of self-collected vaginal swabs for diagnosing BV and document the reliability of BV assessment among pregnant women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Care
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Specimen Handling / instrumentation
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Surgical Sponges
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / diagnosis*