Talk or text to tell? How young adults in Canada and South Africa prefer to receive STI results, counseling, and treatment updates in a wireless world

J Health Commun. 2013;18(12):1465-76. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2013.798379. Epub 2013 Sep 9.


Young adults often lack access to confidential, long-lasting, and nonjudgmental interactions with sexual health professionals at brick-and-mortar clinics. To ensure that patients return for their STI test results, post-result counseling, and STI-related information, computer-mediated health intervention programming allows them to receive sexual health information through onsite computers, the Internet, and mobile phone calls and text messages. To determine whether young adults (age: M = 21 years) prefer to communicate with health professionals about the status of their sexual health through computer-mediated communication devices, 303 second-year university students (183 from an urban North American university and 120 from a periurban university in South Africa) completed a paper-based survey indicating how they prefer to communicate with doctors and nurses: talking face to face, mobile phone call, text message, Internet chat programs, Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail. Nearly all students, and female students in South Africa in particular, prefer to receive their STI test results, post-results counseling, and STI-related information by talking face to face with doctors and nurses rather than communicating through computers or mobile phones. Results are clarified in relation to gender, availability of various technologies, and prevalence of HIV in Canada and in South Africa.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Cell Phone
  • Communication*
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Electronic Mail
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Patient Preference / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / therapy*
  • Social Media
  • South Africa
  • Text Messaging
  • Young Adult