Background: Targeted chlamydia screening has been advocated to reduce chlamydia associated reproductive sequelae. General practitioners are well positioned to play a major role in chlamydia control. The primary aim of this pilot study was to measure the effect of offering an online sexual health assessment tool, Youth Check Your Risk, on chlamydia testing rates among young people attending general practices. The secondary aim was to test the acceptability of the tool among general practitioners and young people.
Methods: General practitioners at three practices in Melbourne, Australia, referred patients aged 16 to 24 years to Youth Check Your Risk http://www.checkyourrisk.org.au for use post-consultation between March to October 2007. The proportion of young people tested for chlamydia before and during the implementation of the tool was compared. Acceptability was assessed through a structured interviewer-administered questionnaire with general practitioners, and anonymous online data provided by Youth Check Your Risk users.
Results: The intervention did not result in any significant increases in the proportion of 16 to 24 year old males (2.7% to 3.0%) or females (6.3% to 6.4%) tested for chlamydia. A small increase in the proportion of 16 to 19 year old females tested was seen (4.1% to 7.2%). Of the 2997 patients seen during the intervention phase, 871 (29.1%) were referred to Youth Check Your Risk and 120 used it (13.8%). Major reasons for low referral rates reported by practitioners included lack of time, discomfort with raising the issue of testing, and difficulty in remembering to refer patients.
Conclusion: Offering an online sexual risk assessment tool in general practice did not significantly increase the proportion of young people tested for chlamydia, with GPs identifying a number of barriers to referring young people to Youth Check Your Risk. Future interventions aimed at increasing chlamydia screening in general practice with the aid of an online risk assessment tool need to identify and overcome barriers to testing.