How robust are the natural history parameters used in chlamydia transmission dynamic models? A systematic review

Bethan Davies, Sarah-Jane Anderson, Katy M E Turner, Helen Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Transmission dynamic models linked to economic analyses often form part of the decision making process when introducing new chlamydia screening interventions. Outputs from these transmission dynamic models can vary depending on the values of the parameters used to describe the infection. Therefore these values can have an important influence on policy and resource allocation. The risk of progression from infection to pelvic inflammatory disease has been extensively studied but the parameters which govern the transmission dynamics are frequently neglected. We conducted a systematic review of transmission dynamic models linked to economic analyses of chlamydia screening interventions to critically assess the source and variability of the proportion of infections that are asymptomatic, the duration of infection and the transmission probability. We identified nine relevant studies in Pubmed, Embase and the Cochrane database. We found that there is a wide variation in their natural history parameters, including an absolute difference in the proportion of asymptomatic infections of 25% in women and 75% in men, a six-fold difference in the duration of asymptomatic infection and a four-fold difference in the per act transmission probability. We consider that much of this variation can be explained by a lack of consensus in the literature. We found that a significant proportion of parameter values were referenced back to the early chlamydia literature, before the introduction of nucleic acid modes of diagnosis and the widespread testing of asymptomatic individuals. In conclusion, authors should use high quality contemporary evidence to inform their parameter values, clearly document their assumptions and make appropriate use of sensitivity analysis. This will help to make models more transparent and increase their utility to policy makers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8
JournalTheoretical Biology and Medical Modelling
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2014


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