A national survey of nurse practitioner chlamydia knowledge and treatment practices of female patients
Chlamydia is the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease in the United States, with over 4 million new infections presenting each year. The disease presents disproportionate problems for women who are generally asymptomatic; chlamydia is more difficult to diagnose in women than men. Untreated infections in women evolve into serious reproductive tract sequelae, including pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pain, infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and neonatal complications. The bright side to this epidemic is that these sequelae are preventable. Chlamydia is both treatable and easily cured when it is detected. A national mailed survey of NPs was conducted to ascertain current chlamydia knowledge levels and clinical practices with female patients. Survey findings indicate that NPs are fairly knowledgeable about the infection and NP clinical practices are generally consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for chlamydia diagnostics and treatment. However, the survey identified NP deficits in screening and treatment practices for pregnant women. These findings are disturbing given the serious risks associated with failure to promptly diagnose and treat prenatal infections. The survey highlights the need for continuing professional education about chlamydia and other sexually transmitted infections.