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The SPORTSMART study: a pilot randomised controlled trial of sexually transmitted infection screening interventions targeting men in football club settings
  1. Sebastian S Fuller1,
  2. Catherine H Mercer2,
  3. Andrew J Copas2,
  4. John Saunders3,
  5. Lorna J Sutcliffe3,
  6. Jackie A Cassell4,
  7. Graham Hart5,
  8. Anne M Johnson6,
  9. Tracy E Roberts7,
  10. Louise J Jackson7,
  11. Pamela Muniina2,
  12. Claudia S Estcourt3
  1. 1Queen Mary University of London, UK (where the research took place)
  2. 2Centre for Sexual Health and HIV Research, University College London, London, UK
  3. 3Blizard Institute of Cell and Molecular Science, Queen Mary, University of London, London, UK
  4. 4Division of Primary Care and Public Health, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton, UK
  5. 5Faculty of Population Health Sciences, University College London, London, UK
  6. 6Department of Infection & Population Health, University College London, London, UK
  7. 7Department of Health Economics Facility, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sebastian S Fuller, St George's, University of London, Infection and Immunity research institute, Cranmer Terrace, London, UK, SW17 0RE; sfuller{at}


Background Uptake of chlamydia screening by men in England has been substantially lower than by women. Non-traditional settings such as sports clubs offer opportunities to widen access. Involving people who are not medically trained to promote screening could optimise acceptability.

Methods We developed two interventions to explore the acceptability and feasibility of urine-based sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening interventions targeting men in football clubs. We tested these interventions in a pilot cluster randomised control trial. Six clubs were randomly allocated, two to each of three trial arms: team captain-led and poster STI screening promotion; sexual health adviser-led and poster STI screening promotion; and poster-only STI screening promotion (control/comparator). Primary outcome was test uptake.

Results Across the three arms, 153 men participated in the trial and 90 accepted the offer of screening (59%, 95% CI 35% to 79%). Acceptance rates were broadly comparable across the arms: captain-led: 28/56 (50%); health professional-led: 31/46 (67%); and control: 31/51 (61%). However, rates varied appreciably by club, precluding formal comparison of arms. No infections were identified. Process evaluation confirmed that interventions were delivered in a standardised way but the control arm was unintentionally ‘enhanced’ by some team captains actively publicising screening events.

Conclusions Compared with other UK-based community screening models, uptake was high but gaining access to clubs was not always easy. Use of sexual health advisers and team captains to promote screening did not appear to confer additional benefit over a poster-promoted approach. Although the interventions show potential, the broader implications of this strategy for UK male STI screening policy require further investigation.

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