Background Little is known about where sexually active female students access healthcare.
Objectives Using data from the Prevention of Pelvic Infection (POPI) cohort, the authors aimed to:
Describe where sexually active female students aged ≤27 years reported accessing healthcare.
Investigate the association between numbers of sexual partners during 12 months of follow-up and healthcare usage, health-related quality of life (EQ-5D) and demographic and behavioural characteristics.
Methods Participants provided vaginal swabs and completed questionnaires on sexual health and quality of life at baseline and at a 12-month follow-up. The follow-up questionnaire also asked about healthcare attendances during the previous 12 months. Mann–Whitney tests were used to relate healthcare seeking behaviour and other characteristics to reported numbers of partners during follow-up.
Results Of 1865 women included in the analysis, 79% paid at least one visit to their general practice during follow-up, 23% attended an accident and emergency/walk-in clinic, 21% a family planning clinic and 14% a genitourinary medicine clinic. As the number of sexual partners increased (0–1, 2–3, 4+), women were more likely to have visited a genitourinary medicine clinic (10%, 16%, 30%, p<0.001) or accident and emergency/walk-in clinic (21%, 26%, 29%, p<0.002). Women with more sexual partners were also more likely to smoke, use condoms, be aged <16 years at sexual debut, have bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia or gonorrhoea at baseline and to have lower EQ5-D scores.
Conclusion This is the first UK study of healthcare attendance in multiethnic female students recruited outside healthcare settings. The high attendance in general practice may represent a valuable opportunity for screening for sexually transmitted infections.
- Antiretroviral therapy
- chlamydia infection
- general practice
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Funding BUPA Foundation Grant 684/GB14B and Medical Research Council Grant 80280. Gen-Probe provided the Aptima test kits.
Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. The following sentence has been amended to read: Of 1865 women included in the analysis, 79% paid at least one visit to their general practice during follow-up, 23% attended an accident and emergency/walk-in clinic, 21% a family planning clinic and 14% a genitourinary medicine clinic.
Competing interests PO and PEH are members of the eSTI2 consortium funded by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration http://www.esti2.org.uk.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval The study was reviewed by Wandsworth Research Ethics Committee (reference 03.0012) and Bromley Research Ethics Committee (reference: 07/Q0705/16).
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.