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Is non-invasive testing for sexually transmitted infections an efficient and acceptable alternative for patients? A randomised controlled trial
  1. L Brown1,
  2. S Patel2,
  3. N J Ives2,
  4. C McDermott1,
  5. J D C Ross1
  1. 1Whittall Street GUM Clinic, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2Birmingham Clinical Trials Unit, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Miss L Brown, Whittall Street Clinic, Department GU Medicine, Whittall Street, Birmingham B4 6DH, UK; louise.brown{at}hobtpct.nhs.uk

Abstract

Objectives A randomised controlled trial was conducted to assess and quantify the efficacy and acceptability of non-invasive testing (NIT) for sexually transmitted infections (STI) in asymptomatic patients within a genitourinary medicine clinic.

Methods Patients were randomly assigned to either standard of care (SOC—STI testing with genital examination) or NIT. The length of time patients spent in the clinic was recorded and patients were asked to complete a satisfaction survey.

Results 391 participants were randomly assigned. The length of time male and female patients spent in the clinic was significantly shorter with NIT (men 26 min; women 23 min) compared with SOC (men 41 min; women 45 min, p<0.0001), but most of this decrease was due to reduced patient waiting time within the clinic, rather than less time spent with medical or nursing staff. Those randomly assigned to NIT were significantly more likely to state they were in clinic for less time than expected (p<0.01) and report that the tests were less uncomfortable than expected (p≤0.04). For both men and women, more patients in the SOC group declined testing for syphilis (14%) and HIV (20%) compared with NIT (7% and 13%, respectively), but this was only significantly different between treatments for female patients (p≤0.02).

Conclusions NIT for STI in asymptomatic patients can reduce the time patients spend in the clinic when combined with appropriate patient care pathways, and is an acceptable alternative to physician-taken genital swabs.

  • genitourinary medicine
  • non-invasive testing
  • patient satisfaction
  • patients' views
  • randomised controlled trial
  • self-sampling
  • service delivery
  • sexual health
  • sexually transmitted infection
  • Accepted 16 April 2010

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Footnotes

  • Funding This study was supported by Heart of Birmingham primary care trust.

  • Competing interests JDCR is an associate editor of Sexually Transmitted Infections.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Solihull Local Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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