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Public Health Nurs. 2013 Mar;30(2):117-27. doi: 10.1111/phn.12013. Epub 2012 Nov 22.

Sexually transmitted disease testing misconceptions threaten the validity of self-reported testing history.

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  • 1College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. hrroyer@uwm.edu



Sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing is fundamental to STD prevention and control. We sought to comprehensively examine young women's beliefs about the STD testing process.


Descriptive, cross-sectional, survey investigation. Women aged 18-24 (n = 302) drawn from four women's health clinics and one university classroom.


Participants completed the RoTEST, which measures five domains of women's STD testing beliefs and a demographic survey.


Many women believed they would be screened for all STDs when they receive STD testing (40%) and that visual inspection by a provider was a valid method of STD screening for gonorrhea (35%), chlamydia (32%) and HSV (77%). More than a quarter believed that a Pap test screens for gonorrhea (23%) and chlamydia (26%). Twenty-one percent reported that discussing STD testing with a provider is difficult and most reported feeling more comfortable seeking STD testing from an STD specialist rather than a family doctor (79%).


Young women have numerous misconceptions about the STD testing process that may interfere with the validity of their self-reported STD testing history and subsequently undermine public health efforts to improve STD prevention and control. Innovative approaches to educating women about the testing process are needed.

© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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