Developing a Youth-focused Online Clinic for STI testing
Can we get more young people to test for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) if we provide an online service?
This project will develop an online STI testing clinic that is co-designed with young people under age 30. The online clinic will provide STI testing, treatment prescribing, and partner notification, as well as links to sexual health information and resources. The project will assess STI testing and diagnosis rates, user experience, and cost-effectiveness over a two year evaluation period.
Over the last 5 years, STI rates have increased significantly across Australia: gonorrhoea by 86%, syphilis by >100%, and chlamydia by 20%. Timely testing and treatment are critical to reduce ongoing transmission, yet our specialist sexual health clinics in Victoria are at capacity. At the main sexual health clinic in Victoria, the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, annual consultations have increased by 66% in the last decade to about 60,000 consultations annually.
Online sexual health clinics are an innovative and cost-effective solution to increase access to timely sexual health care, reducing some of the demands on and barriers of face-to-face services. Previous research with young adults has shown that they find online testing acceptable. Although web-based sexual health services can be very useful in reaching certain populations, eHealth technologies are often developed with only marginal engagement from the user.
This project will engage young people in a co-design process to inform how the e-clinic services are delivered and promoted. Evidence of user uptake from an interrupted time series study and randomized controlled trial, alongside cost-effectiveness and user experience studies, will help inform the development of a sustainable and scalable model for online STI testing in Australia.
Dr. Christopher Fairley
A/Professor Jason Ong
Dr. Amalia Karahalios
Professor Claudia Estcourt, Glasgow Caledonian University
Dr. Christopher Bourne, STI Programs Unit, NSW Health
Dr. Amy Moten, Sexual Health Medicine Network, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
Professor Meredith Temple-Smith, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne
Heather O’Donnell, Victorian Department of Health
Professor Deborah Williamson, Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory, Doherty Institute
A/Professor Eric Chow, Monash University and Melbourne Sexual Health Centre
Project Manager: Dr. Teralynn Ludwick
National Health and Medical Research Council
Grant number: GNT2006486 | Funding period: 2022-2027
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