Background: In 2008 at the Peoria City/County Health Department Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Clinic, eleven percent of the clients with an STD took an average of fourteen days or more to receive treatment after diagnosis. Policies are in place for clients to receive STD results; however, these policies have remained unchanged for more than ten years.
Objectives: The majority of reported STDs in Peoria County are persons fifteen to twenty-four years of age. A review of health department policy and clinic procedures revealed this age group is more difficult to locate for treatment due to invalid locating information and cell phones are given frequently at time of client check-in. To decrease the length of time from diagnosis to treatment adaptation to existing policies was warranted. The changes need to be low cost for the health department to implement, yet appealing for client buy-in for this hard to reach population.
Methods: Clients at the STD Clinic are given the option to call the clinic for test results or receive a text message on their cell phone. The message is coded to protect confidentiality. The study collected data only on clients with a positive STD diagnosis.
Results: The outcomes for clients who received text messages showed improvement compared to clients that call for their STD results. On an average, text message clients: · returned to clinic three days earlier for treatment · responded to the message within hours · provided the clinic with accurate locating information · when returning for treatment, some clients brought in their partner for testing and treatment
Conclusions: Clients between fifteen to twenty-four years of age prefer to receive text messages for STD results.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: Text messaging STD results is an effective intervention that requires limited resource investment while simultaneously producing positive outcomes.