Surprising findings in comparing GetCheckedOnline clients across BC

A poster presented last week by Aidan Ablona at the STI&HIV World Congress challenged our assumptions about testing barriers in BC. We’d often heard that outside of the Vancouver area it was more difficult to access face-to-face testing due to fewer testing services, and that stigma related to STIs and getting tested was higher.  In a survey of GetCheckedOnline clients, Aidan compared the experiences of these testing barriers clients from Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Interior and in general, found few differences between these regions. In fact, where differences existed, they were typically lower in the clients completing the survey outside of Vancouver!

Check out Aidan’s poster for more info.

How effective is GetCheckedOnline?

Short answer – very!  We recently prepared this Report which summarizes everything about GetCheckedOnline as of early 2018, right from the planning and development through to our most recent research findings. It’s a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in finding out more about the program, including a description of how it works.

GetCheckedOnline overcomes testing barriers

Internet-based testing services for sexually-transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI) are intended to make it easier to get tested. It’s possible though, that people who use these services already have good access to testing, widening the gap for people who need to get tested the most.

We tested these scenarios in a study comparing the experiences of people using the internet-based STBBI testing service (GCO) to people getting tested in person at an STI clinic. We found that GCO was being used by people who face more barriers to getting tested for STBBI, and not just by people had higher socio-economic status or who were more tech-savvy. The full article can be accessed here.

$2 Million dollars awarded to study expansion of GetCheckedOnline

We are pleased to announce our recent success in the HIV Implementation Science Team Grant competition funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Ours was one of five teams in Canada to be awarded this prestigious grant, which will enable us to research the necessary conditions to effectively and equitably scale up GetCheckedOnline to diverse populations and geographic settings. Led by Drs. Mark Gilbert, Catherine Worthington, and Daniel Grace, this five year research project brings together a diverse team of 48 researchers, community experts, and decision-makers to monitor the expansion of GetCheckedOnline in British Columbia and Toronto and rigorously examine the factors that enable the service to reach intended populations and reduce health inequities including HIV incidence. Findings will be published on Lovebytes, stay tuned!

E-Loyalty in a Sexual Health Website

What influences users’ “e-loyalty” to certain health promotion websites over others? If one were to design a health promotion website to attract and retain visitors, what are the important features to consider?

This article examines how the ease of understanding information presented on the BCCDC’s sexual health promotion website SmartSexResource influenced users’ trust, perceived effectiveness, and overall experience of the website, ultimately influencing their e-loyalty.

Find out more about this article here!

Latest findings on GetCheckedOnline presented in Rio!

Some of our latest findings on the impact of GetCheckedOnline (GCO) were presented this summer at the STI & HIV World Congress in Rio de Janeiro.

  • In a survey comparing GCO to STI clinic clients, we found:
    • Satisfaction with testing through GCO was comparable with or higher than STI clinic clients (Poster).
    • Users of GCO are more likely than STI clinic clients to report experiencing barriers to accessing STBBI testing, including access to a clinic (e.g., distance, wait-times), and health care access and stigma (e.g., discomfort discussing sexual history with health care providers; Presentation)
    • There were no differences in knowledge of HIV test concepts between GCO and STI clinic clients (Poster).
  • In a recent online/venue/clinic-based survey of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) in the greater Vancouver area we found 32% awareness of GCO, and of those aware 10% had tested, 50% intended to use GCO, 22% knew a GCO user and 51% had discussed GCO with someone else (Poster).
  • In interviews with Youth and GBMSM who had used GCO, participants said they preferred using GCO due to its convenience, anonymity, control over tests received, speed of results, and use without disclosing sexual orientation (Poster).

We also presented details of the method we used to evaluate a promotional campaign to GBMSM in the first year of GCO (Presentation), as well as a comparison of participant characteristics from three simultaneous convenience surveys of GBMSM to understand differences between online, pride festival, and clinic-based samples of GBMSM (Presentation).


Click yes for informed consent

Given the increasing number of online health services that don’t involve seeing a doctor or nurse, we recently published our experience developing the informed consent step in

We spoke with users about their perceptions of the step, who saw it as important and for the protection of the user and the service. How the consent page was designed was also key to disrupting the “routinization” of consent that happens on most websites.

Find out more about our article!

Encouraging findings from piloting GetCheckedOnline

We conducted an evaluation of the first 15 months of GetCheckedOnline (GCO) that was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research this week. The findings were generally positive, with the service being used by people without a previous history of testing, with behaviours that may indicate a higher risk of infection. Ten people (3%) were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection.

We did see drop-off at each stage of the testing pathway, and a need to promote GCO to youth and ethnically diverse populations. The highest rates of testing were in people who’d accessed GCO instead of waiting for an appointment at an STI clinic – motivation to test is definitely important!

For more info see our page for this article.


How did we develop GetCheckedOnline?

This week we published a description of what it took to develop GetCheckedOnline, BC’s internet-based testing program for STI and BBI.  There’s not a lot of information out there about how to develop complex e-health interventions that are fully integrated with clinical and public health services, so we hope that this will help shorten the process for others!

The article also describes how GetCheckedOnline works, as well as links to screenshots of the application and a video showing you how a client uses the program.

The article is published in JMIR Research Protocols – check it out!


GetCheckedOnline celebrates Pride!

GetCheckedOnline showed its LGBT Pride over the long weekend at the Davie Street Dance Party and Sunset Beach Pride Festival. At both events, party-goers visited our booth to learn about the GetCheckedOnline program and to play our popular “Don’t Gotta Catch’Em All” sexually transmitted infections game (featuring giant stuffed STIs that oddly resemble Pokémon Go characters…) We also enlisted the help of volunteers from the Health Initiative for Men, Totally Outright, and the Community-Based Research Centre’s Investigaytors program to distribute surveys to Pride attendees.  We surveyed gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men to help us learn what guys think about internet-based testing, which will inform future improvements to the service and how it’s promoted. Survey participants walked away with a cute GetCheckedOnline lip balm, mints, or much-coveted packages of gum.

Visit the GetCheckedOnline team next at the New West Pride Columbia Street party, Saturday August 13th from 3-8pm!

Sunset pride 3 Davie party 8 Davie party 3