Not so different after all? Comparing patients attending general practice-based locally enhanced services for sexual health with patients attending genitourinary medicine

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We did a cross-sectional survey of patients attending genitourinary (GU) medicine clinics (n = 933) and general practice-based Locally Enhanced Services for Sexual Health (GP-LESSH, n = 111) in Cornwall, England, in 2009/2010, to compare patients’ characteristics and experiences. Patients completed a pen-and-paper questionnaire that was then linked to an extract of their clinical data. GP-LESSH patients took longer both to seek and to receive care: medians of nine and seven days, respectively, versus GU medicine patients: medians of seven and one day, respectively. GP-LESSH patients were less likely than GU medicine patients to report symptoms (19.6% versus 30.6%) and sexual risk behaviours (33.3% versus 44.7% reported new partners) since recognizing needing to seek care; 5.0% versus 10.2% were men who have sex with men). However, they were equally likely to have sexually transmitted infections (STIs) diagnosed (23.3% versus 24.8%). As GP-LESSH may operate infrequently, local services must work collaboratively to ensure that those seeking care for suspected STIs receive it promptly. Failing to do so facilitates avoidable STI transmission.

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