Testing Adolescents for Sexually Transmitted Infections in Urban Primary Care Practices: Results from a Baseline Study

Susan E. Rubin, Elizabeth M. Alderman, Jason Fletcher, Giselle Campos, Lucia F. O'sullivan, M. Diane Mckee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: Sexually active urban adolescents experience a high burden of sexually transmitted infections (STI). Adolescents often access medical care through general primary care providers; their time alone with a provider increases the likelihood that youth will disclose risky behavior, which may result in STI testing. Our goals were to assess the association (if any) between the provision of time alone and STI testing, and describe the rates of STI testing among sexually active adolescents in urban primary care. Methods: Youth (aged 12-19 years) presenting for care at 4 urban health centers were invited to complete post-visit surveys of their experience. Sexually transmitted infection screening rates were obtained from the clinical information systems (CIS); CIS data were linked to survey responses. Results: We received 101 surveys. Surveyed youth experienced time alone in 69% of all visits. Time alone varied by age (older teens experienced more time alone), and it occurred more frequently in preventive visits (71%) versus nonpreventive visits (33%). It did not vary by gender. Forty-two of the 46 sexually active youth experienced time alone. Screening rates for sexually active females, either at the index visit or within 6 months prior to the index visit, were 17.9% for human immunodeficiency virus and 32.1% for gonorrhea/Chlamydia. No sexually active surveyed males were tested. Overall screening rates varied widely across practices (human immunodeficiency virus 0%-29%; gonorrhea/Chlamydia 7%-29%). There was no difference in screening rates among youth with and without time alone. Conclusion: STI testing for adolescents is being conducted in this primary care urban population, especially for sexually active females. However, clinicians in this setting are not screening females consistently enough and rarely screen males. We were unable to test our hypothesis that provision of time alone was associated with a higher rate of STI testing. Site differences suggest substantial variation in clinician practices that should be addressed in quality improvement interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-212
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Chlamydia
  • HIV
  • adolescents
  • gonorrhea
  • primary care
  • sexually transmitted diseases
  • sexually transmitted infection testing
  • survey study
  • time alone
  • urban primary care


Dive into the research topics of 'Testing Adolescents for Sexually Transmitted Infections in Urban Primary Care Practices: Results from a Baseline Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this