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J Public Health Manag Pract. 2019 Mar/Apr;25(2):165-170. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000795.

Texting Test Results Reduces the Time to Treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections.

Author information

1
Department of Medicine, Florida Public Health Practice-Based Research Network, and Center for Health Equity and Quality Research, University of Florida College of Medicine, Jacksonville, Florida (Dr Bilello); Center for Health Equity and Quality Research, University of Florida College of Medicine, Jacksonville, Florida (Dr Livingood and Mss Lukens-Bull and Smotherman); and Florida Department of Health, St Petersburg, Florida (Dr Choe).

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) continue to be a major health problem and source of health disparities in the United States. With diminishing resources, public health agencies are challenged to limit inefficient STI practices and still maintain effective population health.

OBJECTIVE:

The purpose of this study was to implement a text-messaging strategy to convey STI test results and to assess whether texting positive results was associated with a shorter treatment time frame.

DESIGN:

Quasi-experimental design.

SETTING:

Six counties in Florida.

PARTICIPANTS:

Sexually transmitted infection clients in 6 county health departments.

INTERVENTION:

Clients tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis were given the option to receive their results by a text message or the regular notification process (phone or follow-up clinic visit).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:

The time to treatment after a positive test result for those clients who received their results by a text message versus the regular notification process. Those who were presumptively treated were excluded from the analysis.

RESULTS:

Over a 10-month period, 4081 clients were offered the texting option and 47.8% agreed to participate. For the counties combined, there was a higher percentage of those who received treatment within 1 to 4 days who received their positive test results by text message (53.0%) versus those who received their results by traditional methods (42.0%). In addition, there was a lower percentage of those who either did not get treated or were treated 8 days or more who received their positive test results by text message (26.1%) versus those who received their results by traditional methods (35.2%).

CONCLUSIONS:

Providing a text-messaging option is a viable strategy for clinics to provide timely results to their clients, and these clients were more likely to be treated in 1 to 4 days. Important for public health quality improvement, and increased efficiency and adoption of emerging technologies.

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