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Involving service users in sexual health service development
  1. Paula Baraitser, MD, MFFP, Specialist Registrar in Public Health Medicine1,
  2. Vikki Pearce, BSc, PGDip, Project Manager2,
  3. Geraldine Blake, PGDip, Director3,
  4. Kirsty Collander-Brown, BA, Research Co-ordinator3 and
  5. Andrew Ridley, MBA, MA, Project Director, Lambeth and Southwark Modernisation Initiative4
  1. Lewisham Primary Care Trust, London, UK
  2. Lambeth and Southwark Sexual Health Modernisation Programme, London, UK
  3. Gap Research, London, UK
  4. Guys and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, Guys Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paula Baraitser, Lambeth and Southwark Sexual Health Modernisation Programme, Masters House, 4 Dugard Way, London SE11 4TH, UK. E-mail: paulab{at}


Objectives The study objectives were to document users' experience of family planning and genitourinary medicine clinics and young people's services working within the time constraints of rapid service development and maximising the utility of this data for service improvement.

Methods A total of 93 users of family planning and genitourinary medicine services participated in one of 13 facilitated discussion groups. Some 61% of the sample were women, 64% were aged over 25 years and 47% were Black Caribbean or Black African. The clinic journey was drawn on a wall covered with paper and participants added their comments during the discussion.

Results Users had similar concerns across the three service types. Users perceived some receptionists and clinicians as unfriendly and judgmental and described others providing a quality service often under difficult conditions. Reception was insufficiently confidential, waiting environments uncomfortable, waiting times long and more information was needed throughout service use.

Conclusions Those elements of sexual health services known to be a source of dissatisfaction among young people may also be a problem for older service users and are experienced across different types of sexual health service. This preliminary study demonstrates the feasibility and acceptability of focus group evaluations of sexual health services. This approach generates qualitative data from relatively large numbers of users within a timescale consistent with service development.

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