Increasing attendance at pre-booked sexual health consultations: a systematic review

Sex Health. 2022 Aug;19(4):236-247. doi: 10.1071/SH21245.


Background: Attending a sexual health consultation is integral to the effective prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). However, individuals who may be at risk of STIs do not always do so, leading to an increased risk of STI complications and transmission of infection to others. This systematic review aimed to identify interventions implemented to increase attendance at a pre-booked sexual health clinic appointment and to identify behavioural theory and behaviour change techniques (BCTs), which form the basis for such interventions.

Methods: Articles were identified through a systematic search of four electronic databases (Web of Science; ProQuest; Scopus; PubMed) and included if they aimed to increase attendance at a pre-booked, synchronous sexual health consultation. The quality of included studies was assessed independently by two researchers. Findings were synthesised narratively.

Results: Thirteen studies were included from three countries; eight non-randomised before-after study designs and five randomised controlled trials. Behavioural interventions increased attendance at pre-booked sexual health consultations. Text messages were the most frequently used mode for intervention delivery. A total of 19 BCTs were identified, but only three studies mentioned behavioural theory. The most frequently used BCTs in effective interventions were: using credible sources, employing prompts/cues and the provision of information about health consequences. However, these BCTs were also identified in interventions that were not effective, meaning that optimal content and theoretical underpinning of effective interventions remains unclear.

Conclusions: Behavioural interventions can increase attendance at sexual health consultations. Further research is needed to examine the effectiveness of different BCT combinations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy
  • Humans
  • Referral and Consultation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Sexual Health*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases* / prevention & control