Background and objective:Chlamydia trachomatis infection is a common sexually transmitted infection with serious sequelae. Excellent access to testing, treatment and contact tracing are an essential part of strategies to control it. With traditional sexual health services overstretched, community pharmacies are well placed to provide this service. They have the potential to improve access by offering chlamydia testing and treatment from high street venues with long opening hours. This study evaluated the feasibility and acceptability to users and pharmacists of this service in independent community pharmacies.
Method: A chlamydia testing and treatment service was offered in three community pharmacies in two inner London boroughs for a 3-month pilot. Data on the feasibility and acceptability of the new service were collected via a survey of client experience, indepth semistructured interviews with clients and pharmacists, and structured evaluation reports completed by professional patients paid to visit the pharmacies.
Results: 83 tests were taken with eight (9.5%) of these positive for C trachomatis. Of those tested, 94% (n = 73) were women and 71% (n = 56) were from ethnic minorities. 80 clients completed the questionnaires and 24 clients were interviewed. Most clients heard about the service from the pharmacist when requesting emergency contraception and 16% (n = 13) would not otherwise have been tested. Clients valued the speed and convenience of the service and the friendly, non-judgmental approach of the pharmacist. Confidentiality when asking for the service at the counter was suboptimal, and the pharmacist trained to deliver the service was not always available to provide it.
Conclusions: Chlamydia testing and treatment in community pharmacies is feasible and acceptable to users. The service increases access among young women at high risk of sexually transmitted infection but not among young men.
- Poster prize winner:, This paper was commissioned after winning first prize for posters at the 2006 International Forum on Quality and Safety in Health Care, in Prague
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Funding: The Lambeth and Southwark Sexual Health Modernisation Programme is funded by the Guys and St Thomas’ Charity to redesign sexual health service provision in partnership with service users and providers to better meet the needs of the local population. This project was funded by the Guys and St Thomas’ Charity.
Competing interests: None declared.
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