UBC Graduate Research

Predictors identifying those at increased risk for STDs : a theory-guided review of empirical literature and clinical guidelines Falasinnu, Titilola; Ogilvie, Gina; Gilbert, Mark; Shoveller, Jean; Hottes, Travis; Gustafson, Paul


Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are leading causes of substantial morbidity worldwide. Identification of risk factors for estimating STD risk provides opportunities for optimizing service delivery in clinical settings, including improving case finding accuracy and increasing cost-efficiency by limiting the testing of low-risk individuals. The current study was undertaken to synthesize the evidence supporting commonly cited chlamydia and gonorrhea risk factors. The level of empirical support for the following predictors was strong/moderate: age, race/ethnicity, multiple lifetime sexual partners, sex with symptomatic partners, and concurrent STD diagnosis. The following predictors had weak evidence: socio-economic status, transactional sex, drug/alcohol use, condom use, and history of STD diagnosis. The most frequently listed predictors among nine clinical guidelines were younger age and multiple sexual partners; the least consistently listed predictor was inconsistent condom use. We found reasonably good concordance between risk factors consistently listed in the recommendations and predictors found to have strong empirical support in the literature. There is a need to continue building the evidence base to explicate the mechanisms and pathways of STD acquisition. We recommend periodic reviews of the level of support of predictors included in clinical guidelines to ensure that they are in accordance with empirical evidence.

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