Underreporting and underestimation of gonorrhea cases in the Taiwan National Gonorrhea Notifiable Disease System in the Tainan region: evaluation by a pilot physician-based sentinel surveillance on Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection

Yu Hsiang Hsieh, Mu Jong Kuo, Tsun Che Hsieh, Hsin Chun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives: We established a pilot sentinel surveillance system for Neisseria gonorrhoeae infection in Tainan to evaluate underreporting in the National Gonorrhea Notifiable Disease System (NGNDS), and also conducted a survey to understand physicians' specific reasons for underreporting in the Tainan region. Methods: A sentinel surveillance network consisting of six specialty clinics was created in Tainan City. Three hundred seventeen patients who were clinically diagnosed with urethritis, cervicitis, or gonorrhea were enrolled. N. gonorrhoeae infection was detected by urine-based PCR. A questionnaire was mailed to healthcare providers who potentially see patients with gonorrhea in the Tainan region. Results: Forty-eight N. gonorrhoeae-positive subjects were identified from the sentinel surveillance, and none of these gonorrhea cases were notified to the NGNDS by their healthcare providers. During the study period, there were 67 notified cases in the NGNDS, depicting an underestimation of at least 42% for this epidemic. Of the 16 healthcare providers who had seen cases in the past 3 months, only seven (43.8%) reported that they notified the authorities and only 23 (32%) of 71 cases were reported. 'Not collecting a specimen' and 'afraid of the invasion of patient privacy by the authorities' were the main reasons for the lack of notification. Conclusions: The underreporting of gonorrhea identified in this pilot is substantial. An overhaul of Taiwan's NGNDS that streamlines the reporting procedures and the requirement for laboratory confirmation, along with a continuing medical education program is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e413-e419
JournalInternational Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume13
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Gonorrhea
  • Notifiable diseases
  • Surveillance
  • Taiwan
  • Underreporting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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