“Come & see me. You may have a sexual infection.” (Provider Referrals: Experience and Attitudes of Sexual Contacts)
Chris Faldon, Health Adviser
Department of GU Medicine
Newcastle General Hospital,
Westgate Road, Newcastle NE4 6BE
Tel: 0191 219 5011
If the research work is complete, when was it completed?
Summary of research topic
Chlamydia trachomatis is a significant threat to the sexual health of a large proportion of the sexually active UK population. Asymptomatic cases of infection are frequently detected through partner notification. It has been a key component of controlling sexually transmitted infections.
Few studies have attempted to examine the acceptability of partner notification to patients, partners and health care workers. Health Advisers working in Genito-Urinary Medicine (GUM) clinics take the lead responsibility in tracing sexual contacts.
A qualitative study was performed to address the following areas:
1. Examine the impact on an individual of being informed by a health professional of a specific sexual infection risk.
2. Search out any changes to their feelings and reactions to this life experience over a period of time.
3. Identify factors that may influence coping strategies and thus inform professional practice.
‘In-depth’ interviews were selected as the method of choice. Recruitment proved to be extremely difficult. Five men agreed to be interviewed by the lead researcher and only one went on to a second interview 3 months later. Sufficient data however was collected to address the study aims.
Three key issues emerged from the data:
- Vulnerability: The human reactions to the threat of receiving bad news
- Searching: The response to seek out support and other coping strategies
- Power: Concerned with control issues and the dynamics of relationships
The men were broadly supportive of the intervention of partner notification and articulated views on how it had impacted on their lives.
A range of professional implications, recommendations for further work and research was proposed.