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A survey of the use of text messaging for communication with partners in the process of provider-led partner notification
  1. Victoria Louise Gilbart,
  2. Katy Town,
  3. Catherine Mary Lowndes
  1. HIV & STI Department, Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance and Control (CIDSC), Public Health England, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Victoria Louise Gilbart, HIV & STI Department, Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance and Control (CIDSC), Public Health England, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5EQ, UK; vicky.gilbart{at}phe.gov.uk

Abstract

Objectives Partner notification (PN) is important for sexually transmitted infection (STI) control. With developments in technology, such as text messaging, contacting partners is now easier. This study investigates the frequency and acceptability of text messaging in UK sexual health clinics for STI provider-led PN.

Methods A questionnaire was distributed to health advisers (HAs), cascaded by the Society of Sexual Health Advisers and posted on their website.

Results 65 questionnaires were returned. Most HAs use telephone for the first and second provider-led PN attempt (61, 94% and 51, 78%, respectively) with text messaging as preferred second choice (19, 29% and 32, 49%, respectively). Overall, 56 clinics (86%) used text messaging at some stage, even if not the preferred option. 29 (52%) clinics had text messaging guidelines and 31 (55%) used messaging templates. Messages varied; 33 (59%) request partner make contact, 11 (20%) mention risk of infection, 9 (16%) name the infection and 20 (36%) use a combination of messages. Six (10%) had contact with their Caldicott Guardian about text messaging. No confidentiality concerns were reported and no complaints were reported from partners about receiving unsolicited text messages.

Conclusions Text messaging is widely used and is an important and acceptable tool for STI provider-led PN. It is the second preferred method for contacting partners after telephone for first and second provider-led PN attempts. A small number of clinics never use it. Message content varied; few named the infection. Concerns about confidentiality or negative impact for the partner were not reported. National guidance for the use of text messaging for provider-led PN is needed.

  • PARTNER NOTIFICATION
  • SEXUAL HEALTH
  • PUBLIC HEALTH
  • HEALTH PROMOTION
  • GENITOURINARY MEDICINE SERVICES

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