OBJECTIVES: To assess knowledge of Chlamydia trachomatis infections, with a comparison of knowledge of Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections. METHODS: A cross sectional survey, by self completed questionnaire, of 200 subjects attending a genitourinary outpatient clinic. RESULTS: The response rate was 82% (90 male and 73 female). 51% of men (60% of females) had heard of chlamydia. 65 (82%) were unaware of the potential consequences of infection. 66% were unaware that the disease could be asymptomatic. Significantly more men (77%) than women (60%) had heard of gonorrhoea. Most participants (68%-82%) knew little of the possible consequences of this infection, and only 26% were aware that it could be asymptomatic. Knowledge was higher regarding fertility topics. There was no correlation between knowledge and either age or socioeconomic status. However, greater knowledge was displayed by those who read health information leaflets always or often. For both men and women, the preferred source of health information was the doctor. Other popular sources were health information leaflets, women's magazines, and television. CONCLUSIONS: Barely half the participants had heard of chlamydia and gonorrhoea. Further knowledge of either infection was very poor. There are serious implications for public health. The reasons for this are unclear and require exploration before targeted health promotion. Doctors and the popular media are acceptable, and potentially effective, sources of information. Acquisition of knowledge is important, both to reduce sexual risk taking behaviour and its consequences, and to allow for informed consent for chlamydia screening programmes.
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