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A randomised controlled trial of computer-assisted interviewing in sexual health clinics
  1. John Richens1,2,
  2. Andrew Copas1,
  3. Syed Tariq Sadiq3,4,
  4. Patricia Kingori5,
  5. Ona McCarthy6,
  6. Victoria Jones1,
  7. Philip Hay3,4,
  8. Kevin Miles2,
  9. Richard Gilson1,2,
  10. John Imrie7,
  11. Mark Pakianathan4
  1. 1Research Department of Infection and Population Health, University College London, London, UK
  2. 2Camden Primary Care Trust, St Pancras Hospital, London, UK
  3. 3Centre for Infection, St George's, University of London, London, UK
  4. 4The Courtyard Clinic, St George's Healthcare, NHS Trust, London, UK
  5. 5Department of Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK
  6. 6Research Department of Primary Care and Population Health, University College London, London, UK
  7. 7National Centre in HIV Social Research, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr John Richens, Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research, The Mortimer Market Centre, Mortimer Market, London WC1E 6JB, UK; jrichens{at}


Objectives To assess the impact of computer-assisted interview compared with pen and paper on disclosure of sexual behaviour, diagnostic testing by clinicians, infections diagnosed and referral for counselling.

Methods Two-centre parallel three-arm randomised controlled open trial. Computer-generated randomisation with allocation concealment using sealed envelopes.

Setting Two London teaching hospital sexual health clinics.

Participants 2351 clinic attenders over the age of 16 years.

Interventions Computer-assisted self-interview (CASI). Computer-assisted personal interview (CAPI). Pen and paper interview (PAPI).

Main Outcome Measures Diagnostic tests ordered, sexually transmitted infections (STI).

Secondary Outcomes Disclosure of sexual risk, referral for counselling.

Results 801, 763 and 787 patients randomly allocated to receive CASI, CAPI and PAPI. 795, 744 and 779 were available for intention-to-treat analysis. Significantly more diagnostic testing for hepatitis B and C and rectal samples in the CAPI arm (odds for more testing relative to PAPI 1.32; 95% CI 1.09 to 1.59). This pattern was not seen among CASI patients. HIV testing was significantly lower among CASI patients (odds for less testing relative to PAPI 0.73; 95% CI 0.59 to 0.90). STI diagnoses were not significantly different by trial arm. A summary measure of seven prespecified sensitive behaviours found greater reporting with CASI (OR 1.4; 95% CI 1.2 to 1.6) and CAPI (OR 1.4; 95% CI 1.2 to 1.7) compared with PAPI.

Conclusion CASI and CAPI can generate greater recording of risky behaviour than traditional PAPI. Increased disclosure did not increase STI diagnoses. Safeguards may be needed to ensure that clinicians are prompted to act upon disclosures made during self-interview.

Trial registration ISRCTN: 97674664.

  • Computer-assisted self-interview
  • electronic patient record
  • risk behaviour
  • service development
  • sexual behaviour
  • sexual health
  • sexually transmitted infections

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  • Funding This study was funded by the Medical Research Council G0300707 and Camden Primary Care Trust. Neither sponser was involved in the study design, in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, in the writing of the report or in the decision to submit the paper for publication.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval The study was given ethical approval by the Medical Research Ethics Committee for Wales.

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

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