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P221 A survey examining health seeking behaviours of those accessing sexual health services in London
  1. Marie McNulty,
  2. Jake Bayley,
  3. Michael O’Hanlon,
  4. Jennifer Hong,
  5. Rebecca O’Connell
  1. Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK


Background/introduction Open access to sexual health services reduces STI’s and onwards transmission. Given cuts to Public Health budgets, a better understanding of how patients access care is vital to rationalise services.

Aim(s)/objectives Assessing demographics and health behaviours of sexual health clinic attendees to improve service delivery.

Methods Patient-directed questionnaires were completed on registration in a London Trust. Information including demographics, travel times and whether patients sought help before attending were collected.

Results 231 surveys were returned with respondents 48% white, 23% black and 13% Asian. 62% of patients walked-in, 34% booked online. 52/217 (24%) sought advice from elsewhere before attending (primarily GP - 26/52, 50%) with 50% finding it useful. Of 107 responses, 41 (38%) tried self-treating before attendance. Symptomatic patients were more likely then asymptomatic patients to seek help elsewhere (40/113 versus 12/99, p < 0.05). No significant differences in behaviour were observed given age, ethnicity or employment, or previous STI < 12 months ago. No patients with qualifications less than GCSE sought prior to attendance. 80% of patients travelled under 30 minutes to clinic, 58% attended their closest clinic.

Discussion/conclusion Our data demonstrates the clinics surveyed serving a very local population. However a significant proportion of patients, particularly those with symptoms, seek help elsewhere before attending, with only 50% finding this useful. This highlights the importance of specialist services addressing local patients’ health needs. Overall socio-demographic factors did not appear to influence health seeking behaviour, although those with a lower education status appeared to access services more directly.

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