Background: Home-based sampling is a strategy to enhance uptake of sexually transmissible infection (STI) screening. This review aimed to compare the screening uptake levels of home-based self-sampling and clinic-based specimen collection for STIs (chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis), gonorrhoea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) and trichomoniasis) in females aged 14-50 years. Acceptability and effect on specimen quality were determined.
Methods: Sixteen electronic databases were searched from inception to September 2012. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the uptake levels of home-based self-sampling and clinic-based sampling for chlamydia, gonorrhoea and trichomoniasis in females aged 14-50 years were eligible for inclusion. The risk of bias in the trials was assessed. Risk ratios (RRs) for dichotomous outcomes were meta-analysed.
Results: Of 3065 papers, six studies with seven RCTs contributed to the final review. Compared with clinic-based methods, home-based screening increased uptake significantly (P=0.001-0.05) in five trials and was substantiated in a meta-analysis (RR: 1.55; 95% confidence interval: 1.30-1.85; P=0.00001) of two trials. In three trials, a significant preference for home-based testing (P=0.001-0.05) was expressed. No significant difference was observed in specimen quality. Sampling was rated as easy by a significantly higher number of women (P=0.01) in the clinic group in one trial.
Conclusions: The review provides evidence that home-based testing results in greater uptake of STI screening in females (14-50 years) than clinic-based testing without compromising quality in the developed world. Home collection strategies should be added to clinic-based screening programs to enhance uptake.