Fewer than 60 percent of adolescents prescribed treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the emergency department will fill the prescription, according to a new study.
The findings are in line with other research that has shown STI-treatment adherence ranging from 25 to 73 percent, Dr. Monika K. Goyal of George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., and colleagues note in JAMA Pediatrics.
“Given the astoundingly low rates of prescription filling for STI treatment, it is imperative that novel interventions to improve treatment adherence be explored,” they write.
The authors looked retrospectively at 696 13- to 19-year-olds diagnosed with STIs at two pediatric emergency departments in 2016–2017, 208 of whom were prescribed antimicrobial treatment for cervicitis or urethritis (31.2 percent) or pelvic inflammatory disease (68.6 percent). Overall, 57.7 percent of prescriptions were filled.
Hospital admission (73.7 vs. 54.1 percent) was the only factor independently associated with prescription filling (adjusted odds ratio, 2.3). Hospitalized patients may have had more severe pain and more motivation for filling the prescription, Dr. Goyal and her team note, while their parents might also be providing more support.
“Limitations of this study include the potential for limited generalizability because this study was conducted at a single-center ED and the potential for an overestimate of treatment adherence because prescription filling does not assure treatment completion,” they write.
“Future studies should strive to understand the barriers underlying prescription filling to aid the development of targeted, ED-based interventions to promote STI-related treatment adherence,” the researchers conclude.