Impact and cost-effectiveness of chlamydia testing in Scotland: a mathematical modelling study

Katharine J. Looker*, Lesley A. Wallace, Katherine M E Turner

*Corresponding author for this work

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

6 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted bacterial infection in Scotland, and is associated with potentially serious reproductive outcomes, including pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and tubal factor infertility (TFI) in women. Chlamydia testing in Scotland is currently targeted towards symptomatic individuals, individuals at high risk of existing undetected infection, and young people. The cost-effectiveness of testing and treatment to prevent PID and TFI in Scotland is uncertain.

METHODS: A compartmental deterministic dynamic model of chlamydia infection in 15-24 year olds in Scotland was developed. The model was used to estimate the impact of a change in testing strategy from baseline (16.8% overall testing coverage; 0.4 partners notified and tested/treated per treated positive index) on PID and TFI cases. Cost-effectiveness calculations informed by best-available estimates of the quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) lost due to PID and TFI were also performed.

RESULTS: Increasing overall testing coverage by 50% from baseline to 25.2% is estimated to result in 21% fewer cases in young women each year (PID: 703 fewer; TFI: 88 fewer). A 50% decrease to 8.4% would result in 20% more PID (669 additional) and TFI (84 additional) cases occurring annually. The cost per QALY gained of current testing activities compared to no testing is [pound sign]40,034, which is above the [pound sign]20,000-[pound sign]30,000 cost-effectiveness threshold. However, calculations are hampered by lack of reliable data. Any increase in partner notification from baseline would be cost-effective (incremental cost per QALY gained for a partner notification efficacy of 1 compared to baseline: [pound sign]5,119), and would increase the cost-effectiveness of current testing strategy compared to no testing, with threshold cost-effectiveness reached at a partner notification efficacy of 1.5. However, there is uncertainty in the extent to which partner notification is currently done, and hence the amount by which it could potentially be increased.

CONCLUSIONS: Current chlamydia testing strategy in Scotland is not cost-effective under the conservative model assumptions applied. However, with better data enabling some of these assumptions to be relaxed, current coverage could be cost-effective. Meanwhile, increasing partner notification efficacy on its own would be a cost-effective way of preventing PID and TFI from current strategy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2
JournalTheoretical Biology and Medical Modelling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2015


  • Chlamydia
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Epidemiology
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Scotland
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Tubal factor infertility
  • Young people


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