Identifying Solutions to Improve the Sexually Transmitted Infections Testing Experience for Youth Through Participatory Ideation

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Abstract

Sexually transmitted infection (STI) services, including screening, treatment, and counseling among youth, remain suboptimal. In the midst of increasing incidence of bacterial STIs, alarming STI disparities, and persistently low testing rates among youth, solution-focused and action-oriented research with youth is needed. To identify solutions to STI testing barriers, we conducted three participatory ideation workshops with 18 youth, 10 key stakeholders who work with youth, and 8 social design graduate students. In response to prompt questions asking “How might we” address a testing barrier, participants generated as many ideas as they could on small pieces of paper. The brainstorming sessions produced 702 brainstorm idea sheets that were then qualitatively analyzed through pile sorting by three team members (including two youth) with each pile representing a priori themes (from the “How might we” probe) or emergent themes. Ten themes were identified corresponding to three domains: (1) improving the testing experience (improving transparency in the testing process, increasing trust in privacy, alternative testing options, and providing incentives/rewards for testing), (2) addressing the clinic space (multi-service spaces, appealing physical clinical space, and providing waiting room activities), and (3) reframing STI testing (normalizing STI testing, the clinic as a supportive environment, and youth leadership to promote and support STI testing). These findings move beyond identifying barriers and motivators to STI testing among youth and focus on the generation of possible solutions. By engaging youth in the development of solutions to STI testing, solutions that may be better-utilized and more acceptable to youth may be developed.

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