A Multidimensional Approach to Assessing Infectious Disease Risk: Identifying Risk Classes Based on Psychological Characteristics

Daphne A. van Wees, Janneke C.M. Heijne, Titia Heijman, Karlijn C.J.G. Kampman, Karin Westra, Anne de Vries, John de Wit, Mirjam E.E. Kretzschmar, Chantal den Daas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Prevention of infectious diseases depends on health-related behavior, which is often influenced by psychological characteristics. However, few studies assessing health-related behavior have examined psychological characteristics to identify risk groups, and this multidimensional approach might improve disease risk assessment. We aimed to characterize subgroups based on psychological characteristics and examine their influence on behavior and disease risk, using chlamydia as a case study. Selected participants (heterosexuals aged 18-24 years and females aged 18-24 years who had sex with both men and women) in a Dutch longitudinal cohort study (the Mathematical Models Incorporating Psychological Determinants: Control of Chlamydia Transmission (iMPaCT) Study) filled out a questionnaire and were tested for chlamydia (2016-2017). Latent class analysis was performed to identify risk classes using psychological predictors of chlamydia diagnosis. Two classes were identified: class 1 (n = 488; 9% chlamydia diagnosis) and class 2 (n = 325; 13% chlamydia diagnosis). The proportion of participants with high shame, high impulsiveness, and lower perceived importance of health was higher in class 2 than in class 1. Furthermore, persons in class 2 were more likely to be male and to report condomless sex compared with class 1, but the number of recent partners was comparable. Thus, risk classes might be distinguished from each other by psychological characteristics beyond sexual behavior. Therefore, the impact of the same intervention could differ, and tailoring interventions based on psychological characteristics might be necessary to reduce chlamydia prevalence most effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1705-1712
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • health behavior
  • infectious diseases
  • latent class analysis
  • psychological factors
  • risk behavior
  • risk factors


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