Observer variation in the interpretation of Gram-stained urethral smears: implications for the diagnosis of non-specific urethritis

Br J Vener Dis. 1981 Apr;57(2):134-6. doi: 10.1136/sti.57.2.134.


A study was carried out to determine whether the diagnosis of non-specific urethritis was affected by differences in the microscopical interpretation of urethral smears between individual observers (interobserver variation) and the same observer on separate occasions (intraobserver variation). A marked degree of both intraobserver and interobserver variation was found which--depending on the diagnostic criteria adopted--could affect both the diagnosis and treatment of many patients attending a clinic of genitourinary medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteriological Techniques
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Urethra / microbiology*
  • Urethritis / diagnosis*