Attitudes to chlamydia screening in general practice among Australian university students: a pilot study

Sex Health. 2008 Dec;5(4):359-63. doi: 10.1071/sh07097.


Background: Chlamydia screening of sexually active young people in general practice is key to the Australian National Sexually Transmissible Infections Strategy 2005-2008. Overseas research indicates that young people have positive attitudes towards opportunistic screening by a general practitioner (GP). This pilot study aims to investigate the attitudes of Australian university students towards chlamydia screening in primary care.

Methods: Students (16-25 years) attending a class in one of three faculties at the University of Sydney participated by completing a questionnaire, which collected information about demographics, sexual history, chlamydia knowledge, attitudes towards and preferences for chlamydia screening.

Results: One hundred and eighty-five students (78% female) returned questionnaires (participation rate 92%). Arts students were younger, more likely to be sexually active and to report having little or no knowledge of chlamydia. Males in the study were less likely to have had sex as a group compared to the group of females in the sample. Science students were also less likely to have had sex compared to their counterparts in other faculties. Seventy-six percent of students were comfortable with opportunistic testing for chlamydia by their GP. Reasons for not being comfortable included 'don't think I'm at risk' (65%) and 'not comfortable discussing sexual matters with my GP' (38%). Although comfortable with GP-based testing, the likelihood of being tested in the upcoming year for most students was low, as was personal concern about chlamydia infection.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that the most at risk group for chlamydia infection is not well educated about their risk of infection. The limited numbers of tests among sexually active individuals in this sample indicate that health practitioners are not screening this high-risk group for chlamydia infection.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Chlamydia Infections / prevention & control*
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family Practice / methods*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • New South Wales
  • Pilot Projects
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Student Health Services / organization & administration
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult