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Little is known about where sexually active female students access healthcare. Using data from the Prevention of Pelvic Infection (POPI) cohort, the authors aimed to: Describe where sexually active female students aged ≤ 27 years reported accessing healthcare. Investigate the association between numbers of sexual partners during 12 months of follow-up and healthcare usage, health-related quality of life (EQ-5D) and demographic and behavioural characteristics. Participants provided vaginal swabs and completed questionnaires on sexual health and quality of life at baseline and at a 12-month follow-up. The follow-up questionnaire also asked about healthcare attendances during the previous 12 months. Mann-Whitney tests were used to relate healthcare seeking behaviour and other characteristics to reported numbers of partners during follow-up. Of 1865 women included in the analysis, 79% paid at least one visit to their general practice during follow-up, 23% attended an accident and emergency/walk-in clinic, 21% a family planning clinic and 14% a genitourinary medicine clinic. As the number of sexual partners increased (0-1, 2-3, 4+), women were more likely to have visited a genitourinary medicine clinic (10%, 16%, 30%, p<0.001) or accident and emergency/walk-in clinic (21%, 26%, 29%, p<0.002). Women with more sexual partners were also more likely to smoke, use condoms, be aged <16 years at sexual debut, have bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia or gonorrhoea at baseline and to have lower EQ5-D scores. This is the first UK study of healthcare attendance in multiethnic female students recruited outside healthcare settings. The high attendance in general practice may represent a valuable opportunity for screening for sexually transmitted infections.

Citation

Ruth Green, Sarah R Kerry, Fiona Reid, Phillip E Hay, Sally M Kerry, Adamma Aghaizu, Pippa Oakeshott. Where do sexually active female London students go to access healthcare? Evidence from the POPI (Prevention of Pelvic Infection) chlamydia screening trial. Sexually transmitted infections. 2012 Aug;88(5):382-5

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PMID: 22416267

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