Background: Persons who have been infected with chlamydia or gonorrhea (CT/GC) are at elevated risk for reinfection. The cost-effectiveness of interventions designed to encourage public sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic patients to return for rescreening has not been well-evaluated.
Goal: The goal of this study was to conduct a program- and societal-perspective cost-effectiveness analysis of five interventions designed to encourage public STD clinic patients infected with CT/GC to return for rescreening 3 months after initial treatment.
Study: Researchers at two STD clinics collected cost data for the five interventions. These were combined with study data on return rates and CT/GC positivity rates among returning patients to compare the cost-effectiveness of the interventions.
Results: The cost per patient counseled with a brief recommendation to return, followed by a telephone reminder after 3 months, was higher than two interventions: a brief recommendation to return with no reminder and a $20 incentive, received on return. However, the brief recommendation with a telephone reminder yielded the highest return rate (33%) and was the least costly in terms of cost per infection treated ($622 program, $813 societal). In-depth motivational counseling that helped clients identify risk factors and provided reasons for returning was more costly than a phone reminder alone and was not more effective.
Conclusions: Phone reminders are more cost-effective than motivational counseling and improve return rates over a brief recommendation given at the time of initial treatment.