The asymptomatic nature and suboptimal screening rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) call for implementation of successful interventions to improve screening in community-based clinic settings with attention to cost and resources.
We used MEDLINE to systematically review comparative analyses of interventions to improve STD (chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis) screening or rescreening in clinic-based settings that were published between January 2000 and January 2014. Absolute differences in the percent of the target population screened between comparison groups or relative percent increase in the number of tests or patients tested were used to score the interventions as highly effective (>20% increase) or moderately effective (5%–19% increase) in improving screening. Published cost of the interventions was described where available and, when not available, was estimated.
Of the 4566 citations reviewed, 38 articles describing 42 interventions met the inclusion criteria. Of the 42 interventions, 16 (38.1%) were categorized as highly effective and 14 (33.3%) as moderately effective. Effective low-cost interventions (<$1000) included the strategic placement of specimen collection materials or automatic collection of STD specimens as part of a routine visit (7 highly effective and 1 moderately effective) and the use of electronic health records (EHRs; 3 highly effective and 4 moderately effective). Patient reminders for screening or rescreening (via text, telephone, and postcards) were highly effective (3) or moderately effective (2) and low or moderate cost (<$1001–10,000). Interventions with dedicated clinic staff to improve STD screening were highly effective (2) or moderately effective in improving STD screening (1) but high-cost ($10,001–$100,000).
Successful interventions include changing clinic flow to routinely collect specimens for testing, using EHR screening reminders, and reminding patients to get screened or rescreened. These strategies can be tailored to different clinic settings to improve screening at a low cost.