Background The BRAVO trial is an ongoing study designed to determine whether bi-monthly home-screening and treatment for asymptomatic bacterial vaginosis (BV) reduces risk of urogenital chlamydia and gonorrhoea infections in young women. Return rate of self-collected swabs is a critical element of home testing interventions. We conducted this preliminary analysis to determine the swab return rate and to assess its association with age, race, or recruitment setting.
Methods Participants, recruited from 10 clinics in 5 cities, were asked to mail self-collected vaginal swabs to the research team every 2 months for one year. For each evaluable participant, we determined the number of kits returned (of 6 total) and compared the proportion of women that returned all 6 kits according to age, race, and recruitment setting.
Results Data were available for 756 participants who were primarily non-Hispanic Blacks (76%), with median age 21 (range: 17–25 years), and mostly recruited from STD clinics (82%). Nearly all women (89%) returned at least one swab; 59% returned all 6 kits; 14% returned 5, 16% returned 1–4, and 11% returned none. Complete swab return rate (all 6) was greater among women aged 23–25 than those aged 17–22 (67% vs. 56%, p < 0.01) and varied among the 5 recruitment cities (range 42%–66%, p = 0.02). Return rates were not significantly associated with race and Hispanic ethnicity, or with recruitment from STD clinics vs. other settings (58% vs. 66%, p = 0.10).
Conclusions The majority of study participants collected and submitted all six home-screening kits, and 73% completed at least five. Adolescent women aged 22 and younger had a lower return rate than women aged 23–25, although the complete return rate was still over 50%. Therefore, frequent home-screening for BV and STIs is feasible in clinical trial settings and could likely be implemented as part of clinical care and STD prevention programmes.
- bacterial vaginosis