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Sex Transm Dis. 2019 Oct 30. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000001077. [Epub ahead of print]

"I'll just pick it up…": Women's Acceptability of Self-Sampling Methods for STI Screening.

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Assistant Professor, Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems, School of Public Health, University of North Texas Health Science Center, 3500 Camp Bowie, Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76107. Assistant Professor, College of Public Health, University of South Florida Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine, University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine, Executive and Medical Director, University of South Florida Student Health Services Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs, Associate Professor, Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies, College of Public Health, University of South Florida Associate Professor, College of Public Health, University of South Florida Professor, Associate Dean for Research and Practice, College of Public Health, University of South Florida.



Rates of sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening are suboptimal among college women. Self-sampling methods (SSM) may improve STI screening rates, but critical gaps remain regarding the influential characteristics of SSM to prioritize in intervention development. The purpose of this study was to explore intervention characteristics influencing the decision to adopt SSM among college women.


In-depth interviews (n=24) were conducted with sexually active college women, age 18-24, to explore preferred intervention characteristics of SSM. Interviews were stratified by screening status (screened or not screened). The instrument was guided by constructs from the Diffusion of Innovation theory and included characteristics of SSM, such as relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, adaptability, and risk and uncertainty.


Overall, women felt that the SSM was not complex and that the instructions were straight-forward. Participants discussed their strong preference for receiving their results via text or email rather than via phone. Additionally, women described their concerns about mailing their sample and described their concern about potential contamination and tampering. The most salient advantage to use of SSM was avoiding an interaction with a healthcare provider.


This study contributes to an understanding of the salient intervention characteristics influencing the use of SSM for STI screening which can be leveraged to improve the health of students and improve rates of screening. Findings can be used to inform the development of a future innovative, theory-based intervention that promotes the use of SSM to improve STI screening rates, and ultimately decrease the burden of STI-related disease.

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