Article Text

Understanding patient choices for attending sexually transmitted infection testing services: a qualitative study
  1. Carrie Llewellyn1,
  2. Alex Pollard1,
  3. Alec Miners2,
  4. Daniel Richardson3,
  5. Martin Fisher3,
  6. John Cairns2,
  7. Helen Smith1
  1. 1Division of Public Health & Primary Care, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, Brighton, UK
  2. 2Department of Health Services Research and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of London, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Genitourinary Medicine, Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Brighton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Carrie Llewellyn, Division of Public Health & Primary Care, Brighton & Sussex Medical School, Mayfield House, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9PH, UK; c.d.llewellyn{at}


Objectives To establish which aspects of sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing services are important to STI testing service users.

Methods 10 focus groups consisting of previous or existing users of STI testing services were conducted in community settings in the south east of England. Groups were quota sampled based on age, gender and sexual orientation. Data were analysed using Framework Analysis.

Results 65 respondents (58% men) participated. Perceived expertise of staff was the key reason for attendance at genitourinary medicine services rather than general practice. Although some respondents voiced a willingness to test for STIs within general practice, the apparent limited range of tests available in general practice and the perceived lack of expertise around sexual health appeared to discourage attendance at general practice. The decision of where to test for STIs was also influenced by past experience of testing, existing relationships with general practice, method of receiving test results and whether the patient had other medical conditions such as HIV.

Conclusions No one type of STI testing service is suitable for all patients. This is recognised by policymakers, and it now requires commissioners and providers to make services outside of genitourinary medicine clinics more acceptable and attractive to patients, in particular to address the perceived lack of expertise and limited range of STIs tests available at alternative testing sites.

  • Sexually transmitted infection
  • patient preferences
  • qualitative
  • psychology
  • qualitative research
  • sexual behaviour
  • cost-effectiveness
  • economic analysis
  • evidence-based medicine
  • STD
  • AIDS
  • opportunistic infections
  • antiretroviral thera
  • AIDS conference

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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  • Funding This paper presents independent research commissioned by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (Grant Reference Number PB-PG-0407-13211). The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by Brighton West Research Ethics Committee.

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

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