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Chlamydia screening in general practice: views of professionals on the key elements of a successful programme
  1. Richard Ma, MRCGP, MSc, General Practitioner1 and
  2. Aileen Clark, MD, FFPH, Reader2
  1. The Village Practice, Islington, London, UK
  2. Public Health and Policy Research Unit, Institute of Community Health Sciences, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Richard Ma, The Village Practice, 115 Isledon Road, Islington, London N7 7JJ, UK. E-mail:{at}


Objectives Chlamydia trachomatis is a common sexually transmitted infection with serious consequences if not treated. Chlamydia screening pilots in England have established feasibility in primary care but there are currently no examples of good practice in general practice. The objectives of the study were to understand issues of using general practice as a setting for chlamydia screening and to explore ways of implementing a successful screening strategy.

Methods Based on findings of a literature review, a semi-structured schedule was constructed to interview a purposive sample of policymakers, consultants in sexual and reproductive health and primary care professionals. A thematic framework was used for qualitative analysis.

Results Twenty-two themes were identified and were ranked in order of word count. The topic that generated most discussion was heterogeneity of knowledge, attitudes and skills in general practice. When broken down by professional group, this topic ranked the highest for practice nurses and consultants in sexual health; general practitioners (GPs) and the chlamydia screening coordinator spoke most about financial incentives while the public health consultant spoke most about access.

Conclusions Most believed screening can and should be done and general practice can offer better population coverage. It needs to have little impact on clinicians' workload, for example, by using urine tests and self-taken vaginal swabs. Financial recognition needs to reflect the administrative costs and the impact on reception staff, but this and the innovative tests might add to the cost of the screening programme. Incentives have to be handled sensitively to reduce inequity among GPs and other services offering screening.

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