Background: Patient-delivered partner treatment (PDPT) is increasingly utilized to enhance Chlamydia and/or gonorrhea treatment and reduce re-infection rates. Patient-delivered partner screening (PDPS) is an additional tool in the expedited partner services (EPS) toolki. PDPS provisions an index patient with a screening kit to be given to partner(s). PDPS offers similar benefits as PDPT: mitigation of care barriers and reduction of overall care costs. However, little is known about patient and partner willingness to engage in PDPS.
Objectives: To assess perceptions regarding PDPS, including willingness to participate, factors influencing willingness, beliefs regarding engagement, and desirability in comparison to other related healthcare behaviors.
Methods: English-speaking men and women (n=20, 20) age 18-40, recruited from an urban STI clinic, completed semi-structured individual interviews, which presented two hypothetical PDPS scenarios, counterbalanced: (a) delivering a screening kit to a partner or (b) using such a kit received from a partner. Perceptions were assessed with both open-ended and multiple-choice/scale questions.
Results: The majority of participants were willing to engage in PDPS delivery and/or receipt. Willingness was contingent on having appropriate information/instructions, relationship context (e.g. close versus casual), and screening kit characteristics (e.g. accuracy, ease of use). Some participants viewed kit delivery as tacit admission of responsibility for the STI transmission, a potential barrier; others viewed it as an opportunity to strengthen the relationship. Many participants preferred alternative practices (including PDPT, or combined PDPS/PDPT).
Conclusions: Healthcare consumers appear willing to engage in PDPS and PDPS may be an important tool in our sexual health services toolkit; however, uptake may be differently burdened by pragmatic issues and consumer perceptions than PDPT.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: Further research should quantify the relationship among willingness, identified factors, and participant characteristics, and examine provider practices and informational materials as facilitators/inhibitors of engagement. Providers need to support varying PDPS perceptions, including the intersection of relationship status, STI “blame,” and willingness.