Background and objective: Treatment of sex partners is an essential part of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) control. This study examined the efficacy of contact tracing via patient self-referral in gonococcal and chlamydial cervicitis cases among adolescents, compared with the effectiveness of provider-referral.
Study design: Adolescent females with culture-proven chlamydial or gonococcal cervicitis were the study subjects. This cohort study was done in an urban non-STD clinic setting. The subjects chose either provider-notification or self-notification method to inform their sex partner(s) in 2 months preceding the interview date.
Results: Two hundred and sixty-five eligible subjects (91% African-American, 9% white) were identified. One hundred and ninety-eight sex contacts were reported by 165 (62%) cases; no contact was elicited in the remaining 100 (38%). The follow-up data revealed that 129/198 (66%) contacts were informed: 63 contacts by 61 index cases, 54 contacts of 47 cases by the case manager, 9 by both methods, and 3 by unspecified means. History of treatment was obtained in 54 contacts, including 37% (23/63) of patient-notified contacts and 50% (27/54) of provider-notified contacts; these 54 contacts constituted 42% of informed contacts, or 27% of all named contacts. The mean number of sexual contacts treated per index case was 0.58 (27/47) for the provider-referral groups and 0.38 (23/61) for the self-referral groups. Successful contact tracing was documented in 19.3% (51/265) of all index cases, resulting in treatment of 54 contacts.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates the need for more effective partner treatment strategies in adolescent STD cases.