Comparing the characteristics of users of an online service for STI self-sampling with clinic service users: A cross-sectional analysis

Sharmani Barnard*, Caroline Free, Ioannis Bakolis, Katy M.E. Turner, Katharine J. Looker, Paula Baraitser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objectives Online services for self-sampling at home could improve access to STI testing; however, little is known about those using this new modality of care. This study describes the characteristics of users of online services and compares them with users of clinic services. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of routinely collected data on STI testing activity from online and clinic sexual health services in Lambeth and Southwark between 1January 2016 and 31March 2016. Activity was included for chlamydia, gonorrhoea, HIV and syphilis testing for residents of the boroughs aged 16 years and older. Logistic regression models were used to explore potential associations between type of service use with age group, gender, ethnic group, sexual orientation, positivity and Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) quintiles. We used the same methods to explore potential associations between return of complete samples for testing with age group, gender, ethnic group, sexual orientation and IMD quintiles among online users. Results 6456 STI tests were carried out by residents in the boroughs. Of these, 3582 (55.5%) were performed using clinic services and 2874 (44.5%) using the online service. In multivariate analysis, online users were more likely than clinic users to be aged between 20 and 30 years, female, white British, homosexual or bisexual, test negative for chlamydia or gonorrhoea and live in less deprived areas. Of the individuals that ordered a kit from the online service, 72.5% returned sufficient samples. In multivariate analysis, returners were more likely than non-returners to be aged >20 years and white British. Conclusion Nearly half (44.5%) of all basic STI testing was done online, although the characteristics of users of clinic and online services differed and positivity rates for those using the online service for testing were lower. Clinics remain an important point of access for some groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-383
Number of pages7
JournalSexually Transmitted Infections
Volume94
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2018. All rights reserved. No commercial use is permitted unless otherwise expressly granted.

Keywords

  • epidemiology (general)
  • health serv research
  • sexual health
  • testing

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