Background Chlamydia screening uptake rates in Australian and overseas pharmacies vary widely (11% to 58%).
Aim To determine the effect on the uptake of chlamydia screening in community pharmacies when a cash reward is offered to young people and participating pharmacies.
Methods The study was advertised in print and electronic media. People aged 16–30 years requested, or were offered, chlamydia testing kits by pharmacy staff (assistants and pharmacists). Participants who provided a urine sample and completed a questionnaire received AUD$10; pharmacies received AUD$10 per person recruited. Urine specimens were tested in pools using PCR, with reflex testing of individual samples when the pool tested positive. Positive cases were notified by sexual health nurses and offered treatment.
Results Six urban community pharmacies took part in the study, each for 15 days. 979 testing kits were given out and 970 sample pots returned (99.1%); 66 (7%) did not contain urine. 74% (670/904) of the urine samples were determined to be from unique individuals, 65% of whom were male. 19 people (13 females and 6 males) tested positive; positivity rates were 5.2% (95% CI 2.8 to 8.8) for females and 1.4% for males. 11 (61%) of those testing positive were contacted and eight attended a local sexual health centre for treatment, three were treated elsewhere. Of the eight people treated at the sexual health centre, two females aged 15 and 20 years were diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease. Contact with the remaining eight positive individuals was not possible due to disconnected, incorrect or non-existent telephone numbers.
Conclusion The 68% specimen return rate found in this study significantly exceeds those reported elsewhere. Strategies to prevent repeat testing, non-urine specimens and incorrect contact numbers are needed to ensure good clinical care and optimum use of resources.