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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The experience of providing young people attending general practice with an online risk assessment tool to assess their own sexual health risk

Jade E Bilardi1*, Lena A Sanci2, Christopher K Fairley13, Jane S Hocking7, Danielle Mazza5, Dot J Henning49, Susan M Sawyer46, Michelle J Wills8, Debra A Wilson10 and Marcus Y Chen13

Author Affiliations

1 Melbourne School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia

2 Department of General Practice, The University of Melbourne, 200 Berkeley Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia

3 Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, 580 Swanston Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia

4 Centre for Adolescent Health, Royal Children's Hospital, 2 Gatehouse St, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia

5 Department of General Practice, Monash University, Building 1, 270 Ferntree Gully Rd, Notting Hill, Victoria 3168, Australia

6 Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne, Royal Children's Hospital, Flemington Road, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia

7 Key Centre for Women's Health in Society, School of Population Health, The University of Melbourne, Level 2, 723 Swanston Street, Carlton, Victoria 3010, Australia

8 General Practice Divisions Victoria, 458 Swanston Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia

9 Young Peoples Health Service, 19 King Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia

10 Dianella Community Health Inc, 35 Johnstone Street, Broadmeadows, Victoria 3047, Australia

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2009, 9:29  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-29

Published: 12 March 2009

Abstract

Background

Targeted chlamydia screening has been advocated to reduce chlamydia associated reproductive sequelae. General practitioners are well positioned to play a major role in chlamydia control. The primary aim of this pilot study was to measure the effect of offering an online sexual health assessment tool, Youth Check Your Risk, on chlamydia testing rates among young people attending general practices. The secondary aim was to test the acceptability of the tool among general practitioners and young people.

Methods

General practitioners at three practices in Melbourne, Australia, referred patients aged 16 to 24 years to Youth Check Your Risk http://www.checkyourrisk.org.au webcite for use post-consultation between March to October 2007. The proportion of young people tested for chlamydia before and during the implementation of the tool was compared. Acceptability was assessed through a structured interviewer-administered questionnaire with general practitioners, and anonymous online data provided by Youth Check Your Risk users.

Results

The intervention did not result in any significant increases in the proportion of 16 to 24 year old males (2.7% to 3.0%) or females (6.3% to 6.4%) tested for chlamydia. A small increase in the proportion of 16 to 19 year old females tested was seen (4.1% to 7.2%). Of the 2997 patients seen during the intervention phase, 871 (29.1%) were referred to Youth Check Your Risk and 120 used it (13.8%). Major reasons for low referral rates reported by practitioners included lack of time, discomfort with raising the issue of testing, and difficulty in remembering to refer patients.

Conclusion

Offering an online sexual risk assessment tool in general practice did not significantly increase the proportion of young people tested for chlamydia, with GPs identifying a number of barriers to referring young people to Youth Check Your Risk. Future interventions aimed at increasing chlamydia screening in general practice with the aid of an online risk assessment tool need to identify and overcome barriers to testing.