Background: Because sexually transmitted chlamydial infections are common among young women, it is critical that providers screen and manage these infections appropriately.
Objective: To assess the Chlamydia care practices of California primary care physicians and nurse practitioners.
Design: Cross-sectional, self-report mail survey.
Participants: A stratified random sample of primary care physicians and a convenience sample of primary care nurse practitioners in California.
Measurements and main results: Survey content included 5 topic areas: sexual history taking, management of cervicitis, management of a nonpregnant Chlamydia-infected patient, availability of onsite STD services, and Chlamydia screening practices and attitudes. Main outcome measure was the reported frequency of Chlamydia screening of sexually active women age 25 and younger. Respondents included 708 physicians (49% response rate) and 895 nurse practitioners (63% response rate). Nearly half of physicians (47%, 95% confidence interval [CI], 42% to 51%) and a majority of nurse practitioners (79%, 95% CI, 77% to 82%) reported routine Chlamydia screening of women under age 20; similar proportions reported routinely screening women aged 20 to 25 years. Independent predictors of screening among physicians were adolescent medicine specialty, female gender, practicing in a nonprivate setting, and having a higher volume of female patients. Additional findings included the overscreening of women over age 25 by nurse practitioners and the shared concern among providers that Chlamydia screening may not be reimbursed.
Conclusions: The Chlamydia care practices of many California primary care providers are inconsistent with current guidelines. Targeted provider education and improved reimbursements are potential strategies for improvement.