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P201 How can sexual history taking for sexually transmitted infection partner notification be improved?
  1. Gabriele Vojt1,
  2. Maria Pothoulaki1,
  3. Claudia Estcourt1,
  4. Paul Flowers1,
  5. Fiona Mapp2,
  6. Melvina Woode-Owusu2,
  7. Cath Mercer2,
  8. John Saunders2,
  9. Jackie Cassell3,
  10. Rak Nandwani4,
  11. Merle Symonds5
  1. 1Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK
  2. 2University College London, London, UK
  3. 3Brighton and Sussex Medical School
  4. 4NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  5. 5Barts Health NHS Trust

Abstract

Introduction National guidelines, standards and policies help health care professionals to elicit information during sexual history taking as part of partner notification (PN) for sexually transmitted infections (STI). Accurate information about sexual partners and sexual behaviours is vital to prevent onward transmission. This study focuses on patients’ experiences on how sexual history questions for the purpose of PN could be improved.

Methods We conducted 12 focus groups with members of the public and patients at sexual health clinics in Glasgow and London. All patient participants had been diagnosed with a (non-HIV) STI in the past six months. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results Analysis revealed a number of interrelated themes arising from participants’ experiences and perceptions. Shared beliefs about sensitivity and reflexivity of questions regarding the frequency, riskiness and contactability of sexual partners influenced the way in which patients experienced and responded in sexual health consultations. Congruence in language and clinician-led consideration of the context of individual sexual behaviour contributed to the extent to which information was shared.

Discussion Sexual history taking for PN is embedded within a complex interaction between clinicians and patients. The need to accurately identify all partners is balanced against acknowledging that questions asked must be sensitive yet unambiguous. This study suggests that establishing congruence in language and investing time to examine contextual factors within the patient’s sexual behaviours can lead to active collaboration within a time-efficient window, and enhancing the accuracy of information shared thereby enabling health professionals to offer appropriate options for PN.

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