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How much do delayed health care seeking, delayed care provision and diversion from primary care contribute to the transmission of STIs?
  1. Catherine H Mercer (cmercer{at}
  1. University College London, United Kingdom
    1. Lorna Sutcliffe (l.sutcliffe{at}
    1. University College London, United Kingdom
      1. Anne M Johnson (a.johnson{at}
      1. University College London, United Kingdom
        1. Peter J White (p.white{at}
        1. Imperial College London, United Kingdom
          1. Gary Brook (gary.brook{at}
          1. Central Middlesex Hospital, United Kingdom
            1. Jonathan Ross (jonathan.ross{at}
            1. Whittall Street Clinic, Birmingham, United Kingdom
              1. Jyoti Dhar (jyoti.dhar{at}
              1. Leicester Royal Infirmary, United Kingdom
                1. Paddy Horner (paddy.horner{at}
                1. UBHT, United Kingdom
                  1. Frances Keane (frances.keane{at}
                  1. Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, United Kingdom
                    1. Eva Jungmann (eva.jungmann{at}
                    1. Archway Sexual Health Clinic, United Kingdom
                      1. John Sweeney (jn.sweeney{at}
                      1. Victoria Hospital, Blackpool, United Kingdom
                        1. George Kinghorn (george.kinghorn{at}
                        1. Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, United Kingdom
                          1. Geoff P Garnett (g.garnett{at}
                          1. Imperial College London, United Kingdom
                            1. Judith M Stephenson (jstephen{at}
                            1. University College London, United Kingdom
                              1. Jackie A Cassell (j.cassell{at}
                              1. University College London, United Kingdom


                                Objectives: To quantify the contribution of patient delay, provider delay, and diversion between services to delayed access to genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics. To describe the factors associated with delay, and their contribution to STI transmission.

                                Methods: Cross-sectional survey of 3184 consecutive new patients, attending four GUM clinics purposively selected from across England to represent different types of population. Patients completed a short, pen and paper questionnaire, which collected data on sociodemographics, access, and health seeking behaviour. Questionnaires were then linked to routinely collected individual-level demographic and diagnostic data.

                                Results: Patient delay is a median of 7 days, and does not vary by demographic or social characteristics, or by clinic. However, attendance at a walk-in appointment was associated with marked reduction in both patient delay and provider delay. Among symptomatics, 44.8% of men and 58.0% of women continued to have sex while awaiting treatment, 7.0% reporting sex with more than one partner. 4.2% of symptomatic patients reported sex without using condoms with new partner(s) since their symptoms had begun. Approximately 25% of all patients had already sought or received care in general practice, and these patients experienced greater provider delay.

                                Conclusions: Walk-in services are associated with reduction in both patient and provider delay, and should be available to all populations. Patients attending primary care require clear care pathways when referred on to GUM clinics. Health promotion should encourage symptomatic patients to seek care quickly, and to avoid sexual contact before treatment.

                                • access
                                • general practice
                                • genitourinary medicine
                                • primary care
                                • sexually transmitted infections

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