Patient preferences for partner notification

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Abstract

Objective:

To identify patient preferences for notification of sexual contacts when a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is diagnosed.

Methods:

A questionnaire survey of 2544 patients attending three large genitourinary clinics at Derby, Birmingham, and Coventry in the United Kingdom.

Results:

The median age of the respondents was 24 with 1474 (57.9%) women, 1835 (72.1%) white, 1826 (71.8%) single. The most favoured method of partner notification was patient referral, which was rated a “good” method by 65.8% when they had to be contacted because a sexual partner has an STI. Notifying contacts by letter as a method of provider partner notification is more acceptable than phoning, text messaging, or email. Respondents with access to mobile telephones, private emails, and private letters were more likely to rate a method of partner notification using that mode of communication as “good” compared to those without. With provider referral methods of partner notification respondents preferred to receive a letter, email, or text message asking them to contact the clinic rather than a letter, email or text message informing them that they may have an STI.

Conclusion:

Most respondents think that being informed directly by a partner is the best method of being notified of the risk of an STI. Some of the newer methods may not be acceptable to all but a significant minority of respondents prefer these methods of partner notification. The wording of letters, emails, or text messages when used for partner notification has an influence on the acceptability of the method and may influence success of the partner notification method. Services should be flexible enough to utilise the patients’ preferred method of partner notification.

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