September 18, 2001

Group Health research results in new national chlamydia screening guideline

Seattle—The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new chlamydia-screening recommendations last week based in large part on research conducted at Group Health Center for Health Studies in collaboration with the University of Washington.

The recommendations, published in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, call for primary care clinicians to screen all sexually active women aged 25 and younger, as well as older women at risk for chlamydia, as part of regular health care visits.

The Task Force, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), provides evidence-based information on health care outcomes to help people make more informed decisions and improve the quality of health care services.

In making its recommendation, the Task Force pointed to the Group Health study. "The strongest evidence supporting screening is a well-designed randomized trial demonstrating that screening women at risk reduced the incidence of pelvic inflammatory disease from 28 per 1000 woman years to 13 per 1000 women years," the Task Force wrote.

Results of the study, which was conducted with the cooperation of several Group Health primary care teams, was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1996. The lead author was Delia Scholes, PhD, a scientific investigator at Group Health Center for Health Studies.

Chlamydia is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted disease in the United States, with an estimated 3 million new cases each year. Most women have no symptoms when initially infected, but if not treated, can develop pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and other serious health problems, including increased risk of HIV infection.

In addition to its advice on chlamydia screening, the Task Force issued new recommendations regarding lipid screening, skin cancer, and bacterial vaginosis.

"These screening recommendations are an important step in our efforts to improve the quality of health care and quality of life for all Americans," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.

More information about the recommendations is available on the AHRQ Web site at

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