Background: So They Can Know (STCK) is a free partner notification (PN) website developed from extensive formative research conducted with the target population (15-25 year-olds) and health care providers. STCK allows patients in the United States to send informative anonymous notification emails for curable STIs to their partners. We describe the use and misuse of STCK over the first year of the website’s existence (9/27/12-9/26/13).
Methods: STCK automatically collected data on website usage. Browser cookies were used to distinguish unique users from repeat website visitors. In order to better evaluate STCK’s impact, PN email senders were asked for their reasons for sending emails and email recipients could easily report suspected misuse using a link in the body of the notification email.
Results: STCK had 15,204 unique visitors in its first year. Of website visitors, 1,229 (8.1%) navigated to content about how to notify their partners themselves. 215 users (1.4%) sent anonymous emails to a total of 393 recipients. Many emails (37.9% of emails) were sent for unknown reasons, 31.8% to partners, 9.8% were sent by users to themselves, 5.3% to a friend who was thought to be at risk for STIs, and 5.1% as misuse. Many emails (44.3%) were sent for more than one STI, 23.2% for chlamydia alone, 11.5% for gonorrhea alone, and 4.3% for trichomoniasis alone. Five (1.3%) email recipients reported suspected misuse.
Conclusions: While STCK appears to be helping some users notify their partners, only a minority of visitors to STCK have used the website for anonymous PN. Few notification email senders or recipients reported misuse of the system. Anonymous PN websites should not assume that all emails sent through their service are for PN purposes. The impact of active promotion in clinics on the uptake of STCK will be studied in the future.