Background: This study uses the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) as a framework to investigate salient beliefs about chlamydia testing, amongst young people living in relatively deprived areas. These beliefs may form targets for intervention to increase testing in this high-risk population.
Methods: Participants recruited from colleges in deprived areas of a UK city, completed open-ended questions designed to elicit salient beliefs. Responses were content analysed and categorized as describing behavioural, normative or control beliefs.
Results: Beliefs were elicited from 128 respondents (51% male; median age = 17). The commonest behavioural belief, which could have a positive or negative impact on screening intentions, was that testing provides information about health status. Partners were referred to most commonly amongst the normative beliefs. Practical aspects and concerns about social implications of testing were common control beliefs. References to several negative emotions emerged throughout.
Conclusions: This study indicates that raising awareness of chlamydia as a serious sexual health problem may not be the best way to increase the uptake of testing in a high-risk population. Promoting chlamydia testing as potentially providing reassurance may be an alternative. It may also be important to reduce perceptions of social disapproval as well as negative emotion regarding chlamydia testing.
Keywords: beliefs; genitourinary diseases; screening.