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What do young people in high-income countries want from STI testing services? A systematic review


Background There are upward trends of STI rates among young people in most high-income countries. We reviewed the literature to provide a summary of information to support health services with the aim of increasing testing of STIs among young people living in high-income countries.

Methods We conducted a systematic review (Prospero: CRD42020179720) using PubMed, Embase, PsychINFO and CINAHL. The search was performed on 10 January 2020 for studies between January 2000 and 10 January 2020. Two reviewers independently screened articles, and any discrepancies were resolved by a third reviewer. Studies were included if they were performed in high-income countries and contained data on both young people (<26 years) and STI testing preferences. Data regarding the characteristics of STI testing services that young people preferred was extracted. We categorised these characteristics using the framework of a social-ecological model.

Results We identified 1440 studies, and 63 studies were included in the final review. We found 32 studies that addressed individual factors, 62 studies that addressed service factors and 17 studies that addressed societal factors. At an individual level, we identified eight attributes including the need for improved sexual health education. At a service level, 14 attributes were identified including preferences from different subgroups of young people (such as sexual and ethnic minorities) for the types of services. At a societal level, we identified two attributes including the need to address stigma associated with STIs.

Conclusion We provide an overview of the growing body of literature capturing the preferences of young people for STI testing services. To optimise the uptake of STI testing among young people, factors from all socioecological levels should be considered. In addition, understanding and accounting for distinct preferences from subgroups of young people could increase demand for STI testing services for those at greatest need.

  • health services research
  • delivery of health care
  • qualitative research
  • sexual and gender minorities
  • sexual health

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