A new Public Health England (PHE)-developed chlamydia screening program resulted in increased screening test rates. PHE launched the pilot program in the southwest of England with 76 general practitioner (GP) practices following the intervention and 81 GP practices serving as controls. PHE based the intervention on a theory of planned behavior and emphasized the removal of barriers to offering chlamydia tests to young adults. It provided training workshops to teach staff skills and confidence with chlamydia screening as well as resources, such as posters, patient information cards, computer prompts, and newsletters, to improve practice awareness.
The researchers found that the intervention improved screening test rates by 76 percent and the number of chlamydia diagnoses by 40 percent in participating practices compared to control practices. The practices that fully engaged in the intervention doubled their chlamydia screening.
Due to the pilot’s success, PHE planned to extend the program nationally to improve sexual health and testing in general practices. The program would integrate lessons learned from the trial to provide an expanded sexual health intervention to general practices. Under the program, PHE would give staff expertise and materials to offer chlamydia screening and information on contraception and condoms to young adults at every consultation and offer HIV screening to all patients according to national guidelines. So far, more than 70 GPs have enrolled for the program, but PHE wanted to include more than 500 practices this year.
The full report, “Increasing Chlamydia Screening Tests in General Practice: A Modified Zelen Prospective Cluster Randomised Controlled Trial Evaluating a Complex Intervention Based on the Theory of Planned Behaviour,” was published online in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections (2013; doi:10.1136/sextrans-2013-051029).