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D. Haag

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    OS22 - Digital Health Big Data: Promises and Possibilities (ID 30)

    • Event: e-Health 2018 Virtual Meeting
    • Type: Oral Session
    • Track: Clinical Delivery
    • Presentations: 1
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      OS22.02 - Barriers to Testing Mitigated by an Online STI Testing Service (ID 311)

      D. Haag, BC Centre for Disease Control; Vancouver/CA

      • Abstract
      • Slides

      Purpose/Objectives: While rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI) continue to increase nationally, many people face known barriers to accessing testing for STI and HIV (e.g., clinic access, wait times, stigma, fear of judgement). Online STI testing programs are thought to reduce barriers associated with traditional in-clinic testing, though uptake could reflect social or technology gradients. In 2014, the BC Centre for Disease Control implemented a digital health intervention called GetCheckedOnline (; GCO), which allows individuals to test for STI and HIV without the need to visit a clinic. To understand the types of barriers that may be mitigated by online STI testing, we compared clients of a large STI clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia, to clients of GCO.

      Methodology/Approach: Our study was initiated one year after GCO was launched, during which time the service was promoted to STI clinic clients and men who have sex with men (MSM) in Vancouver. Clinic and GCO clients were invited to take an online survey two weeks after receiving their test results. Survey questions included barriers/facilitators of testing at individual, health care provider, clinic and societal levels.

      Finding/Results: GCO clients were older than clinic clients and a higher proportion were MSM. More GCO clients reported their reason for testing as routine and fewer reported symptoms or being a contact to STI. More GCO clients considered accessing online health resources important, but otherwise did not differ from clinic clients on technology use or skills. GCO clients were more likely to report having delayed testing in the past year due to clinic distance, less likely to agree that clinic hours were convenient or that making appointments was easy, and more likely to report long wait times to see a health care provider. GCO clients were more likely to be uncomfortable discussing their sexual history with clinicians in general and where they usually went for health care, as well as more likely to fear being judged by clinicians. Table 1: Characteristics of STI clinic and GetCheckedOnline clients client characteristics.png

      Conclusion/Implications/Recommendations: Our study in a large urban setting suggests that online testing services may effectively engage individuals with barriers to testing, leading to increased uptake and frequency of testing and more timely diagnoses. Further evaluation to verify these findings in different geographic locations (e.g., suburban and rural settings) and populations is underway.

      140 Character Summary: GetCheckedOnline, an online STI testing service in BC, mitigates the barriers that people face when accessing testing in traditional clinic-based environments.

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