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The SPORTSMART study: a pilot randomised controlled trial of sexually transmitted infection screening interventions targeting men in football club settings

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posted on 2023-06-08, 20:24 authored by Sebastian S Fuller, Catherine H Mercer, Andrew J Copas, John Saunders, Lorna J Sutcliffe, Jackie Cassell, Graham Hart, Anne Johnson, Tracy E Roberts, Louise J Jackson, Pamela Muniina, Claudia S Estcourt
Background: Uptake of chlamydia screening by men in England has been substantially lower than by women. Non-traditional settings such as sports clubs offer opportunities to widen access. Involving people who are not medically trained to promote screening could optimise acceptability. Methods: We developed two interventions to explore the acceptability and feasibility of urine-based sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening interventions targeting men in football clubs. We tested these interventions in a pilot cluster randomised control trial. Six clubs were randomly allocated, two to each of three trial arms: team captain-led and poster STI screening promotion; sexual health adviser-led and poster STI screening promotion; and poster-only STI screening promotion (control/comparator). Primary outcome was test uptake. Results: Across the three arms, 153 men participated in the trial and 90 accepted the offer of screening (59%, 95% CI 35% to 79%). Acceptance rates were broadly comparable across the arms: captain-led: 28/56 (50%); health professional-led: 31/46 (67%); and control: 31/51 (61%). However, rates varied appreciably by club, precluding formal comparison of arms. No infections were identified. Process evaluation confirmed that interventions were delivered in a standardised way but the control arm was unintentionally ‘enhanced’ by some team captains actively publicising screening events. Conclusions: Compared with other UK-based community screening models, uptake was high but gaining access to clubs was not always easy. Use of sexual health advisers and team captains to promote screening did not appear to confer additional benefit over a poster-promoted approach. Although the interventions show potential, the broader implications of this strategy for UK male STI screening policy require further investigation.


Targeting young men for better sexual health: THE BALLSEYE PROGRAM; National Institute for Health Research; RP-PG-0707-10208


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Sexually Transmitted Infections




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