What sexually transmitted disease screening method does the adolescent prefer? Adolescents' attitudes toward first-void urine, self-collected vaginal swab, and pelvic examination

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002 Jun;156(6):588-91. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.156.6.588.


Objective: To assess sexually active adolescents' attitudes toward 3 screening collection techniques for detection of Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Trichomonas vaginalis using first-void urine (FVU), self-collected vaginal swab specimens, and pelvic examination with clinician-collected endocervical swab specimens.

Design: Participants completed a preexamination health survey, provided FVU and self-collected vaginal swab samples, and had a pelvic examination with endocervical swab specimen collection. In a confidential postexamination interview, patients ranked the 3 screening techniques according to preference and responded to qualitative positive and negative descriptors to evaluate each technique.

Setting: San Francisco area health maintenance organization and university clinics.

Participants: A convenience sample of 155 ethnically diverse females aged 12 to 21 years, who were sexually active and were to have a pelvic examination.

Main outcome measures: Adolescents' preferences for and evaluations of 3 sexually transmitted disease screening techniques.

Results: Participants preferred the FVU test for sexually transmitted disease screening over the pelvic examination and the self-administered vaginal swab test (P<.001). These results were consistent when controlling for potentially mitigating experiences, including previous pelvic examination, tampon or condom use, and prior pregnancy. In evaluating what they liked and disliked about each of the 3 screening methods, participants described the FVU most positively, the pelvic examination most negatively, and the vaginal swab technique slightly less positively than the FVU.

Conclusion: Most sexually active adolescents attending clinics for pelvic examination prefer to be screened for sexually transmitted diseases first by the FVU, second by the self-collected vaginal swab test, and last by the pelvic examination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Physical Examination
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Urinalysis
  • Vagina / microbiology