Background: Little data exist on internet and text message use among STD clinic clients for the delivery of test results.
Objectives: To determine the acceptability of clients attending a local STD clinic to receive test results via the internet or text message.
Methods: A confidential survey of all clients attending a STD clinic was distributed during July/August 2009. This survey included questions on demographics, sexual preference, comfort with technology, and preference for electronic delivery of test results
Results: Of 398 patients interviewed, the mean age was 27.9 (s.d. 9.9), 59.5% were female, 84.7% had ≥ high school education, 38.1% had multiple sex partners and 19.3% had a new sex partner in the last month. Sexual preference was opposite (87.6%), same (9.3%) and either (3.1%) gender. The majority (84.4%) had access to the internet, felt very comfortable using it (62.8%), used it daily (44.0%) and usually accessed it from: home (69.6%), friend’s house (32.4%), cell phone (32.7%), library (30.4%), and work (15.2%). Over half (59.8%) agreed to receive their test results electronically (44.6% email/48.2% text message) irrespective of the results, but 36.8% only wanted to receive results electronically if tests were negative. Those who wanted to receive electronic results were younger but there were no differences by gender, sexual orientation, or new or multiple sex partners.
Conclusions: Technology may provide an acceptable, rapid means for delivering test results to STD clinic clients compared with the standard of care (i.e. return visit). However, future research is needed to better understand negative patient perceptions towards the use of email or text message for delivery of STD test results.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: STD clinics with high rates of no shows for test results should consider alternative uses of email or text message as a means of delivering test results.