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Home-based chlamydia and gonorrhoea screening: a systematic review of strategies and outcomes

Muhammad S Jamil1*, Jane S Hocking2, Heidi M Bauer3, Hammad Ali1, Handan Wand1, Kirsty Smith1, Jennifer Walker4, Basil Donovan15, John M Kaldor1 and Rebecca J Guy1

Author Affiliations

1 The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

2 Center for Women’s Health, Gender and Society, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

3 Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA

4 Centre for Excellence in Rural Sexual Health, Rural Health Academic Centre, Melbourne Medical School, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

5 Sydney Sexual Health Center, Sydney Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:189  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-189

Published: 4 March 2013



In many countries, low Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) screening rates among young people in primary-care have encouraged screening programs outside of clinics. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) make it possible to screen people in homes with self-collected specimens. We systematically reviewed the strategies and outcomes of home-based CT/NG screening programs.


Electronic databases were searched for home-based CT and/or NG screening studies published since January 2005. Screening information (e.g. target group, recruitment and specimen-collection method) and quantitative outcomes (e.g. number of participants, tests and positivity) were extracted. The screening programs were classified into seven groups on the basis of strategies used.


We found 29 eligible papers describing 32 home-based screening programs. In seven outreach programs, people were approached in their homes: a median of 97% participants provided specimens and 76% were tested overall (13717 tests). In seven programs, people were invited to receive postal test-kits (PTKs) at their homes: a median of 37% accepted PTKs, 79% returned specimens and 19% were tested (46225 tests). PTKs were sent along with invitation letters in five programs: a median of 33% returned specimens and 29% of those invited were tested (15126 tests). PTKs were requested through the internet or phone without invitations in four programs and a median of 32% returned specimens (2666 tests). Four programs involved study personnel directly inviting people to receive PTKs: a median of 46% accepted PTKs, 21% returned specimens and 9.1% were tested (341 tests). PTKs were picked-up from designated locations in three programs: a total of 6765 kits were picked-up and 1167 (17%) specimens were returned for screening. Two programs used a combination of above strategies (2395 tests) but the outcomes were not reported separately. The overall median CT positivity was 3.6% (inter-quartile range: 1.7-7.3%).


A variety of strategies have been used in home-based CT/NG screening programs. The screening strategies and their feasibility in the local context need to be carefully considered to maximize the effectiveness of home-based screening programs.

Sexually transmitted infections; Chlamydia trachomatis; Screening; Home