Completed Study

Factors affecting the implementation & scalability of online sexual health services

Lead:Youth Sexual Health Team
Funding:Canadian Institutes of Health Research
Principal Investigator(s):Jean Shoveller, Mark Gilbert
Research Team:Melanie Achen, Vicki Bungay, Penny Hawe, Rich Lester, Juanita Maginley, Gina Ogilvie

The Internet is a new medium that offers unprecedented reach to populations at risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. Globally, pilot programs for internet-based sexual health services such as online testing and partner notification have shown promising results. Internet-based services typically include online testing services (e.g., online risk assessment questionnaires; downloadable lab test requisition forms); online counseling and education (e.g., online sexual health counselors through chat, forums, or e-mail; referrals to other services) and online partner notification (e.g., online greeting cards sent peer-to-peer with personal messages or anonymously). Youth (age<25) and men who have sex with men (MSM) have been shown to be particularly receptive to internet-based services. The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has recently been funded to develop a BC Online Sexual Health Services Program (OSHSP), which will build on this experience by adding the following online initiatives: (a) online STI/HIV testing; (b) online counseling and education; and (c) email-based partner notification. This two-year study will include in-depth analyses of the first two sites in BC where the OSHSP will be implemented: BCCDC 12th Street STI Clinic and Bute Street Clinic. The study aims to: (1) Develop detailed descriptions of the factors affecting the implementation of BC’s new OSHSP; (2) Investigate the processes by which those factors may influence the potential for complementarity between the new OSHSP and the current system; (3) Investigate how the OSHSP can best be scaled-up to fit with and complement existing services within the BC’s sexual health service system.