The antibiotic management of gonorrhoea in Ontario, Canada following multiple changes in guidelines: an interrupted time-series analysis

Sex Transm Infect. 2017 Dec;93(8):561-565. doi: 10.1136/sextrans-2017-053224. Epub 2017 Aug 26.


Objective: This study assessed adherence with first-line gonorrhoea treatment recommendations in Ontario, Canada, following recent guideline changes due to antibiotic resistance.

Methods: We used interrupted times-series analyses to analyse treatment data for cases of uncomplicated gonorrhoea reported in Ontario, Canada, between January 2006 and May 2014. We assessed adherence with first-line treatment according to the guidelines in place at the time and the use of specific antibiotics over time. We used the introduction of new recommendations in the Canadian Guidelines for Sexually Transmitted Infections in 2008 and 2011 and the release of the province of Ontario's Guidelines for the Treatment and Management of Gonococcal Infections in Ontario in 2013 as interruptions in the time-series analysis.

Results: Overall, 34 287 gonorrhoea cases were reported between 1 January 2006 and 31 May 2014. Treatment data were available for 32 312 (94.2%). Our analysis included 32 272 (94.1%) cases without either a conjunctival or disseminated infection. Following the release of the 2011 recommendations, adherence with first-line recommendations immediately decreased to below 30%. Adherence slowly increased but did not reach baseline levels before the 2013 guidelines were released. Following release of the 2013 guidelines, adherence again decreased; adherence is slowly recovering but by May 2014, was only approximately 60%.

Conclusions: Due to concerns about antibiotic resistance, gonorrhoea treatment guidelines need to be updated regularly and rapidly adopted in practice. Our study showed poor adherence following dissemination of updated guidelines. Over a year after the latest Ontario guidelines were released, 40% of patients did not receive first-line treatment, putting them at risk of treatment failure and potentially promoting further drug resistance. Greater attention should be devoted to dissemination and implementation of new guidelines.

Keywords: Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / drug therapy*
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Humans
  • Interrupted Time Series Analysis
  • Male
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / drug effects*
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Public Health