Background: Surveillance for sexually transmitted infections (STI) in England is performed using the Genitourinary Medicine Clinic Activity Dataset (GUMCAD). This allows longitudinal linkage of patient-care episodes, but only basic clinical and demographic data are collected. Recent outbreak investigations in England have highlighted the impact of dense sexual networks, club drug usage and suboptimal partner notification (PN) on STI incidence. Thus, a pilot was designed to determine the feasibility and acceptability of routinely collecting data on risk behaviour and PN outcomes through GUMCAD.
Methods: Using national guidelines for sexual history-taking, an electronic proforma was designed to collect data on sexual partnerships, alcohol and drug use before/during sex, history of STI diagnoses and PN outcomes. A convenience sample of STI clinics was enlisted in the pilot, with rolling admission from September 2013–January 2014. Each site was required to collect behavioural data for 4–8 consecutive weeks on all new patient-care episodes, then, where applicable, PN outcome data for 4 additional weeks. A web-based survey was disseminated to the clinic staff to collect feedback on the pilot, and participation is being sought for key-informant interviews.
Results: Eight clinics in England agreed to participate in the pilot. By end-October 2013, behavioural data collection was completed at three sites. Initial feedback from the web survey suggested that this enhanced data collection of risk behaviour and PN outcomes is feasible and desirable. The major challenge has been the collection of data regarding drug and alcohol use, as this was a new activity for some sites.
Conclusions: The feedback from this pilot will be used to design an acceptable proforma to routinely collect behavioural and PN data through national STI surveillance. This will improve the evidence-base on specific behaviours associated with poor health outcomes and enable the development of clinic-based risk assessment tools for triaging patient management.