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1.  The views of general practitioners and practice nurses towards the barriers and facilitators of proactive, internet-based chlamydia screening for reaching young heterosexual men 
BMC Family Practice  2014;15:127.
Background
Chlamydia trachomatis is a common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI), which disproportionately affects young people under 25 years. Commonly, more women are offered screening than men. This study obtained the views of general practitioners and practice nurses towards Internet-based screening and assessed levels of support for the development of proactive screening targeting young heterosexual men via the Internet.
Methods
Semi-structured telephone interviews with 10 general practitioners and 8 practice nurses, across Central Scotland. Topics covered: experience of screening heterosexual men for chlamydia, views on the use of the Internet as a way to reach young men for chlamydia screening, beliefs about the potential barriers and facilitators to Internet-based screening. Transcripts from audio recordings were analysed with Framework Analysis, using QSR NVivo10.
Results
Experiences of chlamydia screening were almost exclusively with women, driven by the nature of consultations and ease of raising sexual health issues with female patients; few practice nurses reported seeing men during consultations. All participants spoke in favour of Internet-based screening for young men. Participants reported ease of access and convenience as potential facilitators of an Internet-based approach but anonymity and confidentiality could be potential barriers and facilitators to the success of an Internet approach to screening. Concerns over practical issues as well as those pertaining to gender and socio-cultural issues were raised.
Conclusions
Awareness of key barriers and facilitators, such as confidentiality, practicality and socio-cultural influences, will inform the development of an Internet-based approach to screening. However, this approach may have its limits in terms of being able to tackle wider social and cultural barriers, along with shifts in young people’s and health professionals’ attitudes towards screening. Nevertheless, employing innovative efforts as part of a multi-faceted approach is required to ensure effective interventions reach the policy agenda.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-15-127
PMCID: PMC4096584  PMID: 24972919
2.  Associations between Mode of HIV Testing and Consent, Confidentiality, and Referral: A Comparative Analysis in Four African Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(10):e1001329.
A study carried out by Carla Obermeyer and colleagues examines whether practices regarding consent, confidentiality, and referral vary depending on whether HIV testing is provided through voluntary counseling and testing or provider-initiated testing.
Background
Recommendations about scaling up HIV testing and counseling highlight the need to provide key services and to protect clients' rights, but it is unclear to what extent different modes of testing differ in this respect. This paper examines whether practices regarding consent, confidentiality, and referral vary depending on whether testing is provided through voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) or provider-initiated testing.
Methods and Findings
The MATCH (Multi-Country African Testing and Counseling for HIV) study was carried out in Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda. Surveys were conducted at selected facilities. We defined eight outcome measures related to pre- and post-test counseling, consent, confidentiality, satisfactory interactions with providers, and (for HIV-positive respondents) referral for care. These were compared across three types of facilities: integrated facilities, where testing is provided along with medical care; stand-alone VCT facilities; and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) facilities, where testing is part of PMTCT services. Tests of bivariate associations and modified Poisson regression were used to assess significance and estimate the unadjusted and adjusted associations between modes of testing and outcome measures. In total, 2,116 respondents tested in 2007 or later reported on their testing experience. High percentages of clients across countries and modes of testing reported receiving recommended services and being satisfied. In the unadjusted analyses, integrated testers were less likely to meet with a counselor before testing (83% compared with 95% of VCT testers; p<0.001), but those who had a pre-test meeting were more likely to have completed consent procedures (89% compared with 83% among VCT testers; p<0.001) and pre-test counseling (78% compared with 73% among VCT testers; p = 0.015). Both integrated and PMTCT testers were more likely to receive complete post-test counseling than were VCT testers (59% among both PMTCT and integrated testers compared with 36% among VCT testers; p<0.001). Adjusted analyses by country show few significant differences by mode of testing: only lower satisfaction among integrated testers in Burkina Faso and Uganda, and lower frequency of referral among PMTCT testers in Malawi. Adjusted analyses of pooled data across countries show a higher likelihood of pre-test meeting for those testing at VCT facilities (adjusted prevalence ratio: 1.22, 95% CI: 1.07–1.38) and higher satisfaction for stand-alone VCT facilities (adjusted prevalence ratio: 1.15; 95% CI: 1.06–1.25), compared to integrated testing, but no other associations were statistically significant.
Conclusions
Overall, in this study most respondents reported favorable outcomes for consent, confidentiality, and referral. Provider-initiated ways of delivering testing and counseling do not appear to be associated with less favorable outcomes for clients than traditional, client-initiated VCT, suggesting that testing can be scaled up through multiple modes without detriment to clients' rights.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2007, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) issued a joint guidance document on “provider-initiated” HIV testing and counseling. They noted that previous testing strategies that relied on “client-initiated” testing (also referred to as VCT, for voluntary counseling and testing) had failed to reach enough people, both in high-income and resource-constrained countries—in Africa, for example, at that time, just 12% of men and 10% of women had ever been tested. They argued that many opportunities to diagnose and counsel people that visit health facilities for other reasons are being missed, and that provider-initiated HIV testing and counseling can help expand access to HIV treatment, care, and support. They made it clear, however, that mandatory testing is not acceptable. All provider-initiated testing must therefore give individuals the option to not be tested. In addition, the guidelines stressed that all testing must continue to observe “the three Cs” (informed consent, counseling, and confidentiality) and be accompanied by an “enabling environment” including the availability of antiretroviral therapy, prevention and support services, and a supportive social, policy, and legal framework. A number of advocates have subsequently criticized the guidelines for failing to recognize that health-care services and staff in some countries do not always observe the three Cs. Critics have also questioned the appropriateness of the strategy for settings where antiretroviral therapy is not always available or where stigma and discrimination remain widespread.
Why Was This Study Done?
To inform the debate surrounding scale-up of HIV testing in general and provider-initiated testing in particular with data on “real-life” testing, researchers have since carried out a number of studies. One of them, called MATCH (for Multi-Country African Testing and Counseling for HIV), was designed to allow systematic comparisons across African countries of different ways of HIV testing. Its goal was to investigate the uptake of testing, to analyze differences in the experience of testing across countries and modes of testing, and to use the results to devise better strategies to increase knowledge of HIV status and referral to care. MATCH used different means to collect information, including surveys and interviews. People from Burkina Faso, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda participated. Some had undergone HIV testing, others had not. This study used a subset of the survey data collected for the MATCH study and asked whether there were systematic differences depending on the type of testing people had experienced.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The data the researchers used were from 2,116 people who had undergone testing in the two previous years at different facilities in the four countries. The different facilities were grouped into three “modes” of testing: VCT-only testing, integrated testing (which included hospitals and other medical facilities where provider-initiated and client-initiated testing were both available, along with other medical services), and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) testing at medical facilities offering services to pregnant women. Analyzing the survey responses, the researchers categorized them as related to eight different “outcomes”: pre-test meeting, pre-test counseling, consent, confidentiality, satisfaction with the person-to-person interactions, post-test meeting to receive results, post-test counseling, and referral to care.
They found that across countries and different facilities, the majority of participants reported having received most of the testing-related services. More than 90% reported having a pre-test meeting, and around 80% were satisfied with the personal interactions, with the consent process, and with confidentiality. About 50% of participants reported receiving all post-test services, and 71% of those who had tested positive for HIV reported appropriate referral to care.
When they looked for differences between different modes of testing, the researchers found that while they existed, they did not consistently favor one mode over another. Some outcomes scored higher in VCT facilities, some in PMTCT facilities, and some in integrated facilities.
What Do These Findings Mean?
While there is room for improvement in HIV testing services (especially post-test services) across the countries and facilities included, the study did not reveal major problems with consent or confidentiality. The results also suggest that services at PMTCT and integrated facilities are not any worse than those at VCT-only sites. It seems therefore reasonable to continue expanding access to HIV testing and to include all facilities in the scale-up. That said, this is only one of a number of studies examining issues surrounding HIV testing, and decisions should be based on all available evidence. The results here are consistent with some of the other studies, but there are also reports that counseling might become neglected as testing is scaled up, and that offering testing routinely at every doctor's visit makes it seem mandatory even if there is the possibility to “opt out.” Other analyses of the MATCH study use in-depth interviews to understand in more detail the feelings, experiences, and attitudes of participants who have been tested as well as those who have not been tested. It will be important to see whether their results are consistent with the ones here, which are based on a survey of people who have been tested.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001329.
WHO has published a toolkit for scaling up HIV testing and counseling services in resource-limited settings, as well as the report Service Delivery Approaches to HIV Testing and Counselling (HSC): A Strategic HTC Programme Framework
In response to reactions to the 2007 joint WHO/UNAIDS guidelines Guidance on Provider-Initiated HIV Testing and Counselling in Health Facilities, the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights issued a Statement and Recommendations on Scaling up HIV Testing and Counselling
The NAM/aidsmap website has a section on HIV testing policies and guidelines.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001329
PMCID: PMC3479110  PMID: 23109914
3.  Young Men’s Views Toward the Barriers and Facilitators of Internet-Based Chlamydia Trachomatis Screening: Qualitative Study 
Background
There is a growing number of Internet-based approaches that offer young people screening for sexually transmitted infections.
Objective
This paper explores young men’s views towards the barriers and facilitators of implementing an Internet-based screening approach. The study sought to consider ways in which the proposed intervention would reach and engage men across ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Methods
This qualitative study included 15 focus groups with 60 heterosexual young men (aged 16-24 years) across central Scotland, drawn across age and socioeconomic backgrounds. Focus groups began by obtaining postcode data to allocate participants to a high/low deprivation category. Focus group discussions involved exploration of men’s knowledge of chlamydia, use of technology, and views toward Internet-based screening. Men were shown sample screening invitation letters, test kits, and existing screening websites to facilitate discussions. Transcripts from audio recordings were analyzed with "Framework Analysis".
Results
Men’s Internet and technology use was heterogeneous in terms of individual practices, with greater use among older men (aged 20-24 years) than teenagers and some deprivation-related differences in use. We detail three themes related to barriers to successful implementation: acceptability, confidentiality and privacy concerns, and language, style, and content. These themes identify ways Internet-based screening approaches may fail to engage some men, such as by raising anxiety and failing to convey confidentiality. Men wanted screening websites to frame screening as a serious issue, rather than using humorous images and text. Participants were encouraged to reach a consensus within their groups on their broad design and style preferences for a screening website; this led to a set of common preferences that they believed were likely to engage men across age and deprivation groups and lead to greater screening uptake.
Conclusions
The Internet provides opportunities for re-evaluating how we deliver sexual health promotion and engage young men in screening. Interventions using such technology should focus on uptake by age and socioeconomic background. Young people should be engaged as coproducers of intervention materials and websites to ensure messages and content are framed appropriately within a fast-changing environment. Doing so may go some way to addressing the overall lower levels of testing and screening among men compared with women.
doi:10.2196/jmir.2628
PMCID: PMC3868974  PMID: 24300158
qualitative research; adolescent male; socioeconomic status; chlamydia; sexually transmitted diseases; screening; Internet
4.  Teenagers' views on the general practice consultation and provision of contraception. The Adolescent Working Group. 
BACKGROUND: The rate of unwanted pregnancies in adolescents in the United Kingdom (UK) is one of the highest in Europe and is a major reason for the RCGP's concern at the under-use of general practitioners' (GPs') contraceptive services by young people. AIM: To discover the attitudes of 15- to 16-year-olds to the GP consultation and contraceptive services. METHOD: Questionnaires were completed as part of an evaluation of a novel sex education programme in 30 schools in 1994, and provided the data for this study. A total of 4481 teenagers (51.6% male and 48.4% female completed the questionnaires in their classrooms under conditions of complete confidentiality. RESULTS: The median consulting rate per year was two for males and three for females. Over 60% of adolescents attended the consultation with a parent. Of the males, 27.5% 'felt that the discussion with their GP could be relayed to their parents against their wishes', as did 25.1% of the females. Other difficulties with GP appointments were identified as embarrassment (63% of females and 46% of males), difficulty getting a quick appointment (44% of both males and females), and an unsympathetic GP (32% of females and 20.5% of males). CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents identify significant factors blocking them from easy access to consultation with their GP. These included lack of trust in confidentiality, lack of staff friendliness, and delay in appointment. Consideration of how these blocks can be removed will assist in providing improved contraceptive services in primary care. General practices need to consider the above factors when providing contraceptive and other services to their teenage patients.
PMCID: PMC1409956  PMID: 9519517
5.  Have the public's expectations for antibiotics for acute uncomplicated respiratory tract infections changed since the H1N1 influenza pandemic? A qualitative interview and quantitative questionnaire study 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e000674.
Objective
To investigate the effect of the H1N1 influenza pandemic on the public's expectations for a general practice consultation and antibiotic for acute respiratory illness.
Design
Mixed methods.
Participants
Qualitative interviews: 17 participants with acute respiratory tract infection (RTI) visiting English pharmacies. Face-to-face survey: about 1700 adults aged 15 years and older were recruited from households in England in January 2008, 2009 and 2011.
Results
The qualitative data indicated that the general public had either forgotten about the ‘swine flu’ (H1N1 influenza) pandemic or it did not concern them as it had not affected them directly or affected their management of their current RTI illness. Between 2009 and 2011, we found that there was little or no change in people's expectations for antibiotics for runny nose, colds, sore throat or cough, but people's expectations for antibiotics for flu increased (26%–32%, p=0.004). Of the 1000 respondents in 2011 with an RTI in the previous 6 months, 13% reported that they took care of themselves without contacting their general practitioners and would not have done so before the pandemic, 9% reported that they had contacted their doctor's surgery and would not have done so before the pandemic and 0.6% stated that they had asked for antibiotics and would not have done so before the pandemic. In 2011, of 123 respondents with a young child (0–4 years) having an RTI in the previous 6 months, 7.4% requested antibiotics and would not have done so before the pandemic. Unprompted, 20% of respondents thought Tamiflu© (oseltamivir) was a vaccine.
Conclusions
Expectations of the general public for a consultation or antibiotics with an RTI are similar now to before the H1N1 influenza pandemic; therefore, public antibiotic campaign messages and general practice advice to patients can remain unchanged. Parents with young children and those with personal experience of the H1N1 influenza are more likely to consult and will need more reassurance. The public need more education about Tamiflu©.
Article summary
Article focus
Hypothesis
The H1N1 (2009) pandemic has ‘medicalised’ acute respiratory illness presenting with flu-like symptoms, including cough, cold, sore throat and fever.
The general public may now have a greater expectation that they should seek a consultation with a health professional and have a greater expectation for antibiotics when they next have an acute respiratory illness presenting with flu-like symptoms, including cough, cold, sore throat and fever.
Aims
To determine if expectations for a consultation or an anti-infective have changed as a result of the publics' experiences of the recent (2009) H1N1 influenza pandemic and to explore the publics' understanding of anti-infectives.
Key messages
The H1N1 influenza pandemic has not changed the general public's expectations for a general practitioner's consultation or antibiotics when they have a runny nose, cough, cold or sore throat but may have increased people's expectations for antibiotics for influenza.
Most have either forgotten about the influenza outbreak or it did not concern them as it had not affected them directly.
The smaller subsets of the public with young children and those who have had suspected or confirmed H1N1 influenza themselves are now more likely to consult and request an antibiotic for an RTI and, therefore, these groups will need more guidance and reassurance.
A fifth of the public believe that Tamiflu© (oseltamivir) is a vaccine, implying that enhanced information sharing is needed in this area.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This was a large survey of the general population, repeating some of the questions asked before the 2009 H1N1 flu epidemic, using the same sampling methods.
The qualitative interviews had recruitment problems with many potential interviewees not being at home when telephoned. However, the purpose of qualitative interviews was mainly to enrich our data, and they did help explain our quantitative findings.
The questionnaire survey asked to recall their most recent RTI in the previous 6 months and what actions they took on that occasion. This will be subject to some recall bias.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000674
PMCID: PMC3323811  PMID: 22457479
6.  How can adolescents' health needs and concerns best be met? 
BACKGROUND: A previous survey of letters to 'agony aunts' revealed that adolescents have many concerns about their health. AIM: To discover the views of adolescents on a range of issues including the venues where they would like to be seen, the doctors they would like to consult, and the subjects they would like to discuss. METHOD: A questionnaire was distributed to adolescents in a variety of school settings and distributed through a popular teenage magazine. RESULTS: A total of 525 replies were received. Most adolescents had visited their general practitioner (GP) in the previous year. Most would prefer to see a teenage health specialist at a venue other than their local surgery, and to have the option of a 'drop-in' service. Responders were worried about a wide range of health issues. They had strong opinions on the type of doctor they would like to consult and the style of surgery they would prefer. Concerns were expressed about confidentiality. CONCLUSION: In the short term, surgeries could be made more 'user-friendly' for adolescents. In the longer term, the authors propose liaison between GPs and paediatricians with a special interest in teenage health to provide a confidential, combined youth service, with ideas on service development based on the expressed wishes of the adolescent population.
PMCID: PMC1410117  PMID: 9474826
7.  How do teenagers and primary healthcare providers view each other? An overview of key themes. 
BACKGROUND: Teenagers have often been asked for their opinions about health services. However, relatively few studies have involved quantitative and qualitative methods of assessing them. Furthermore, there have been no United Kingdom studies of providers' views on the health of teenagers or of providers' opinions about their role in teenage health. AIM: To determine how teenagers view primary care, to discover how primary care providers view teenage patients, and to note any differences in opinions between the two groups. DESIGN OF STUDY: Questionnaire survey, focus group discussions, and semi-structured interviews. SETTING: Two thousand two hundred and sixty-five teenage patients, 16 general practitioners (GPs), 12 practice nurses, and 12 general practice receptionists in South Wales valley communities. METHOD: Selected practices provided age-sex registers of patients aged between 14 and 18 years and questionnaires were sent to these patients. Focus groups were assembled from those teenagers who had completed and returned the questionnaire. Semi-structured interviews between one member of the study team and GP surgery staff, chosen randomly from staff lists in the selected surgeries. RESULTS: The teenagers reported a lack of knowledge of services available from primary care, a feeling of a lack of respect for teenage health concerns, poor communication skills in GPs, and a poor understanding of confidentiality issues. The providers did not always share these concerns and they also had differing views on communication and confidentiality issues. CONCLUSION: The data demonstrated important findings about how teenagers would like primary care services to be improved. There was an apparent gulf between teenagers' own opinions about health care and the opinions held by primary care providers.
PMCID: PMC1314126  PMID: 11677704
8.  Views of Young People in Rural Australia on SPARX, a Fantasy World Developed for New Zealand Youth With Depression 
JMIR Serious Games  2014;2(1):e3.
Background
A randomized control trial demonstrated that a computerized cognitive behavioral therapy (cCBT) program (Smart, Positive, Active, Realistic, X-factor thoughts [SPARX]) was an appealing and efficacious treatment for depression for adolescents in New Zealand. Little is known about the acceptability of computerized therapy programs for rural Australians and the suitability of computerized programs developed in one cultural context when used in another country. Issues such as accents and local differences in health care access might mean adjustments to programs are required.
Objective
This study sought to explore the acceptability of SPARX by youth in rural Australia and to explore whether and how young people would wish to access such a program.
Methods
Focus groups and semistructured interviews were conducted with 16 young people attending two youth-focused community services in a small, rural Tasmanian town. An inductive data-driven approach was used to identify themes using the interview transcripts as the primary data source. Interpretation was supported by demographic data, observer notes, and content analysis.
Results
Participants reported that young people want help for mental health issues but they have an even stronger need for controlling how they access services. In particular, they considered protecting their privacy in their small community to be paramount. Participants thought computerized therapy was a promising way to increase access to treatment for youth in rural and remote areas if offered with or without therapist support and via settings other than school. The design features of SPARX that were perceived to be useful, included the narrative structure of the program, the use of different characters, the personalization of an avatar, “socialization” with the Guide character, optional journaling, and the use of encouraging feedback. Participants did not consider (New Zealand) accents off-putting. Young people believed the SPARX program would appeal to those who play computer games generally, but may be less appealing for those who do not.
Conclusions
The findings suggest that computerized therapy offered in ways that support privacy and choice can improve access to treatment for rural youth. Foreign accents and style may not be off-putting to teenage users when the program uses a playful fantasy genre, as it is consistent with their expectation of fantasy worlds, and it is in a medium with which they already have a level of competence. Rather, issues of engaging design and confidential access appeared to be more important. These findings suggest a proven tool once formally assessed at a local level can be adopted cross-nationally.
doi:10.2196/games.3183
PMCID: PMC4307819  PMID: 25659116
mental health; stigma; computer games; youth; rural health, computerized CBT
9.  The Long-Term Effects of a Peer-Led Sex Education Programme (RIPPLE): A Cluster Randomised Trial in Schools in England 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(11):e224.
Background
Peer-led sex education is widely believed to be an effective approach to reducing unsafe sex among young people, but reliable evidence from long-term studies is lacking. To assess the effectiveness of one form of school-based peer-led sex education in reducing unintended teenage pregnancy, we did a cluster (school) randomised trial with 7 y of follow-up.
Methods and Findings
Twenty-seven representative schools in England, with over 9,000 pupils aged 13–14 y at baseline, took part in the trial. Schools were randomised to either peer-led sex education (intervention) or to continue their usual teacher-led sex education (control). Peer educators, aged 16–17 y, were trained to deliver three 1-h classroom sessions of sex education to 13- to 14-y-old pupils from the same schools. The sessions used participatory learning methods designed to improve the younger pupils' skills in sexual communication and condom use and their knowledge about pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), contraception, and local sexual health services. Main outcome measures were abortion and live births by age 20 y, determined by anonymised linkage of girls to routine (statutory) data. Assessment of these outcomes was blind to sex education allocation. The proportion of girls who had one or more abortions before age 20 y was the same in each arm (intervention, 5.0% [95% confidence interval (CI) 4.0%–6.3%]; control, 5.0% [95% CI 4.0%–6.4%]). The odds ratio (OR) adjusted for randomisation strata was 1.07 (95% CI 0.80–1.42, p = 0.64, intervention versus control). The proportion of girls with one or more live births by 20.5 y was 7.5% (95% CI 5.9%–9.6%) in the intervention arm and 10.6% (95% CI 6.8%–16.1%) in the control arm, adjusted OR 0.77 (0.51–1.15). Fewer girls in the peer-led arm self-reported a pregnancy by age 18 y (7.2% intervention versus 11.2% control, adjusted OR 0.62 [95% CI 0.42–0.91], weighted for non-response; response rate 61% intervention, 45% control). There were no significant differences for girls or boys in self-reported unprotected first sex, regretted or pressured sex, quality of current sexual relationship, diagnosed sexually transmitted diseases, or ability to identify local sexual health services.
Conclusion
Compared with conventional school sex education at age 13–14 y, this form of peer-led sex education was not associated with change in teenage abortions, but may have led to fewer teenage births and was popular with pupils. It merits consideration within broader teenage pregnancy prevention strategies.
Trial registration:
ISRCTN (ISRCTN94255362).
Judith Stephenson and colleagues report on a cluster randomized trial in London of school-based peer-led sex education and whether it reduced unintended teenage pregnancy.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Teenage pregnancies are fraught with problems. Children born to teenage mothers are often underweight, which can affect their long-term health; young mothers have a high risk of poor mental health after the birth; and teenage parents and their children are at increased risk of living in poverty. Little wonder, then, that faced with one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Western Europe, the Department of Health in England launched a national Teenage Pregnancy Strategy in 2000 to reduce teenage pregnancies. The main goal of the strategy is to halve the 1998 under-18 pregnancy rate—there were 46.6 pregnancies for every 1,000 young women in this age group in that year—by 2010. Approaches recommended in the strategy to achieve this goal include the provision of effective sexual health advice services for young people, active engagement of health, social, youth support, and other services in the reduction of teenage pregnancies, and the improvement of sex and relationships education (SRE).
Why Was This Study Done?
Although the annual under-18 pregnancy rate in England is falling, it is still very high, and it is extremely unlikely that the main goal of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy will be achieved. Experts are, therefore, looking for better ways to reduce both teenage pregnancy rates and the high rates of sexual transmitted diseases among teenagers. Many believe that peer-led SRE—the teaching (sharing) of sexual health information, values, and behaviours by people of a similar age or status group—might be a good approach to try. Peers, they suggest, might convey information about sexual health and relationships better than teachers. However, little is known about the long-term effectiveness of peer-led SRE. In this randomized cluster trial, the researchers compare the effects of a peer-led SRE program and teacher-led sex education given to13- to 14-y-old pupils on abortion and live birth numbers among young women up to age 20 y. In a cluster randomized trial, participants are randomly assigned to the interventions being compared in “clusters”; in this trial, each “cluster” is a school.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Twenty-seven schools in England (about 9,000 13- to 14-y-old pupils) participated in the RIPPLE (Randomized Intervention of PuPil-Led sex Education) trial. Each school was randomly assigned to peer-led SRE (the intervention arm) or to existing teacher-led SRE (the control arm). For peer-led SRE, trained 16- to 17-y-old peer educators gave three 1-h SRE sessions to the younger pupils in their schools. These sessions included practice with condoms, role play to improve sexual negotiating skills, and exercises to improve knowledge about sexual health. The researchers then used routine data on abortions and live births to find out how many female study participants had had an unintended pregnancy before the age of 20 y. One in 20 girls in both study arms had had one or more abortions. Slightly more girls in the control arm than in the intervention arm had had live births, but the difference was small and might have occurred by chance. However, significantly more girls in the intervention arm (11.2%) self-reported a pregnancy by age 18 than in the intervention arm (7.2%). There were no differences between the two arms for girls or boys in any other aspect of sexual health, including sexually transmitted diseases.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the peer-led SRE program used in this trial had no effect on the number of teenage abortions but may have led to slightly fewer live births among the young women in the study. This particular peer-led SRE program was very short so a more extended program might have had a more marked effect on teenage pregnancy rates; this possibility needs to be tested, particularly since the pupils preferred peer-led SRE to teacher-led SRE. Even though peer-led SRE requires more resources than teacher-led SRE, this form of SRE should probably still be considered as part of a broad teenage prevention strategy, suggest the researchers. But, they warn, their findings should also “temper high expectations about the long-term impact of peer-led approaches” on young people's sexual health.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050224.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by David Ross
Every Child Matters, a Web site produced by the UK government, includes information on teenage pregnancy, the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, and teenage pregnancy statistics in England
Directgov, an official government Web site for UK citizens, provides advice for parents on talking to children about sex and teenage pregnancyand advice for young people on sexual health and preventing pregnancy
Teachernet, a UK source of online publications for schools, also provides information for parents about sex and relationships education and the UK government's current guidance on SRE in schools
Avert, an international AIDS charity, also provides a fact sheet on sex education
The Sex Education Forum in the UK is the national authority on Sex and Relationships Education
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050224
PMCID: PMC2586352  PMID: 19067478
10.  Quality standards for child and adolescent mental health in primary care 
BMC Family Practice  2012;13:51.
Background
Child and adolescent mental health problems are common in primary healthcare settings. However, few parents of children with mental health problems express concerns about these problems during consultations. Based on parental views, we aimed to create quality of care measures for child and adolescent mental health in primary care and develop consensus about the importance of these quality standards within primary care.
Methods
Quality Standards were developed using an iterative approach involving four phases: 1) 34 parents with concerns about their child’s emotional health or behaviour were recruited from a range of community settings including primary care practices to participate in focus group discussions, followed by validation groups or interviews. 2) Preliminary Quality Standards were generated that fully represented the parents’ experiences and were refined following feedback from an expert parent nominal group. 3) 55 experts, including parents and representatives from voluntary organisations, across five panels participated in a modified two-stage Delphi study to develop consensus on the importance of the Quality Standards. The panels comprised general practitioners, other community-based professionals, child and adolescent psychiatrists, other child and adolescent mental health professionals and public health and policy specialists. 4) The final set of Quality Standards was piloted with 52 parents in primary care.
Results
In the Delphi process, all five panels agreed that 10 of 31 Quality Standards were important. Although four panels rated 25–27 statements as important, the general practitioner panel rated 12 as important. The final 10 Quality Standards reflected healthcare domains involving access, confidentiality for young people, practitioner knowledge, communication, continuity of care, and referral to other services. Parents in primary care agreed that all 10 statements were important.
Conclusions
It is feasible to develop a set of Quality Standards to assess mental healthcare provision for children and adolescents seen within primary healthcare services. Primary care practitioners should be aware of parental perspectives about quality of care as these may influence help-seeking behaviours.
doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-51
PMCID: PMC3480829  PMID: 22672193
11.  General practice and the care of children with HIV infection: 6 month prospective interview study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;319(7204):232-235.
Objectives
To describe the use of primary care services by children infected with HIV and to explore the attitudes of their parents to the role of general practitioners in their children’s care.
Design
A 6 month prospective study. Quantitative analysis of “contact diaries” kept by parents; qualitative analysis of face to face interviews with parents.
Participants
Parents of children receiving care at a regional referral centre in London.
Results
Twenty four families (80% response rate) were recruited to the study. In 19 families the mother was black African. Half the children had been diagnosed with symptomatic HIV infection, half with AIDS. All the children were registered with a general practitioner who knew of the child’s HIV infection. In five families there had initially been tensions in their relationship with their general practitioner but by the time of the study all but one family had established at least an “acceptable” relationship. Children with symptomatic HIV infection saw their general practitioner a mean of 7.5 times per patient year; for children with AIDS the figure was 5.8. Parents regarded the paediatric HIV team at the hospital as their primary source of medical care. Three factors constrained their use of general practice: their own anxieties about distinguishing “normal” symptoms from those related to HIV infection; their view that their general practitioner did not feel competent to treat HIV infected children; and their concerns about maintaining confidentiality in the surgery.
Conclusions
Parents remain oriented towards the paediatric HIV team as their primary source of medical care and use general practice largely for routine prescriptions for their children. Any further development of the general practitioner’s role will need to build on existing relationships with specialist providers and take account of parents’ concerns.
Key messagesWith appropriate help from the paediatric HIV team when necessary, all parents were willing to register with a local general practitioner and to disclose their child’s HIV infectionParents remained oriented towards the specialist paediatric HIV team as their main source of medical care and looked to the general practitioner largely for routine prescriptionsParents preferred to go directly to the paediatric HIV team when their child developed new symptoms because of their own uncertainty about how to distinguish between “normal” childhood symptoms and those related to HIV infectionParents were reluctant to consult their general practitioner because they observed that he or she did not feel competent to treat HIV infected children and because they were concerned about the difficulties of maintaining confidentiality in a busy surgery
PMCID: PMC28175  PMID: 10417088
12.  ‘Can he have the test for bipolar, doctor? His dad's got it’: exploring the potential of general practitioners to work with children and young people presenting in primary care with common mental health problems – a clinical initiative 
Mental Health in Family Medicine  2012;9(2):115-123.
Background General practitioners (GPs) play a key role in assessing and managing adult mental health problems, but this input is not seen in their management of child and adolescent mental health. Mental health problems in 5–19-year-olds are common, yet detection rates in primary care are low. The symptoms of most adult diagnoses of mental health problems are present by mid-adolescence, yet the typical time from onset to diagnosis is 5–15 years. The role of general practice in this area has been underexplored.
Aim This pilot study explores the potential of GPs to respond to common mental health problems in children and adolescents.
Design Children and young people who would have ordinarily been referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) were seen in a GP setting. In a UK general practice surgery serving a disadvantaged population.
Method Children and young people were seen for an initial biopsychosocial assessment and formulation of the presenting concerns. GP-based interventions were offered as appropriate or referred to CAMHS.
Results Data from the first 50 children (2–19 years) are presented. Twenty younger children (10 years and under) and 30 older children (11 years and above) were seen. Eighteen referrals were made to CAMHS. GP interventions included watchful waiting, brief behavioural interventions, non-directive counselling, brief cognitive– behavioural therapy (CBT) and liaison with colleagues in education, CAMHS and the voluntary sector.
Conclusion This clinical pilot demonstrates that with adequate time, access to supervision and practice support, children and young people experiencing emotional and behavioural problems associated with common mental health issues can be helped in primary care.
PMCID: PMC3513704  PMID: 23730336
common child and adolescent mental health problems; early intervention in primary care; GP involvement
13.  Barriers to Provider-Initiated Testing and Counselling for Children in a High HIV Prevalence Setting: A Mixed Methods Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(5):e1001649.
Rashida Ferrand and colleagues combine quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate HIV prevalence among older children receiving primary care in Harare, Zimbabwe, and reasons why providers did not pursue testing.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
There is a substantial burden of HIV infection among older children in sub-Saharan Africa, the majority of whom are diagnosed after presentation with advanced disease. We investigated the provision and uptake of provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling (PITC) among children in primary health care facilities, and explored health care worker (HCW) perspectives on providing HIV testing to children.
Methods and Findings
Children aged 6 to 15 y attending six primary care clinics in Harare, Zimbabwe, were offered PITC, with guardian consent and child assent. The reasons why testing did not occur in eligible children were recorded, and factors associated with HCWs offering and children/guardians refusing HIV testing were investigated using multivariable logistic regression. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with clinic nurses and counsellors to explore these factors. Among 2,831 eligible children, 2,151 (76%) were offered PITC, of whom 1,534 (54.2%) consented to HIV testing. The main reasons HCWs gave for not offering PITC were the perceived unsuitability of the accompanying guardian to provide consent for HIV testing on behalf of the child and lack of availability of staff or HIV testing kits. Children who were asymptomatic, older, or attending with a male or a younger guardian had significantly lower odds of being offered HIV testing. Male guardians were less likely to consent to their child being tested. 82 (5.3%) children tested HIV-positive, with 95% linking to care. Of the 940 guardians who tested with the child, 186 (19.8%) were HIV-positive.
Conclusions
The HIV prevalence among children tested was high, highlighting the need for PITC. For PITC to be successfully implemented, clear legislation about consent and guardianship needs to be developed, and structural issues addressed. HCWs require training on counselling children and guardians, particularly male guardians, who are less likely to engage with health care services. Increased awareness of the risk of HIV infection in asymptomatic older children is needed.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Over 3 million children globally are estimated to be living with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). While HIV infection is most commonly spread through unprotected sex with an infected person, most HIV infections among children are the result of mother-to-child HIV transmission during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding. Mother-to-child transmission can be prevented by administering antiretroviral therapy to mothers with HIV during pregnancy, delivery, and breast feeding, and to their newborn babies. According to a report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS published in 2012, 92% of pregnant women with HIV were living in sub-Saharan Africa and just under 60% were receiving antiretroviral therapy. Consequently, sub-Saharan Africa is the region where most children infected with HIV live.
Why Was This Study Done?
If an opportunity to prevent mother-to-child transmission around the time of birth is missed, diagnosis of HIV infection in a child or adolescent is likely to depend on HIV testing in health care facilities. Health care provider–initiated HIV testing and counselling (PITC) for children is important in areas where HIV infection is common because earlier diagnosis allows children to benefit from care that can prevent the development of advanced HIV disease. Even if a child or adolescent appears to be in good health, access to care and antiretroviral therapy provides a health benefit to the individual over the long term. The administration of HIV testing (and counselling) to children relies not only on health care workers (HCWs) offering HIV testing but also on parents or guardians consenting for a child to be tested. However, more than 30% of children in countries with severe HIV epidemics are AIDS orphans, and economic conditions in these countries cause many adults to migrate for work, leaving children under the care of extended families. This study aimed to investigate the reasons for acceptance and rejection of PITC in primary health care settings in Harare, Zimbabwe. By exploring HCW perspectives on providing HIV testing to children and adolescents, the study also sought to gain insight into factors that could be hindering implementation of testing procedures.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified all children aged 6 to 15 years old at six primary care clinics in Harare, who were offered HIV testing as part of routine care between 22 January and 31 May 2013. Study fieldworkers collected data on numbers of child attendances, numbers offered testing, numbers who underwent HIV testing, and reasons why HIV testing did not occur. During the study 2,831 children attending the health clinics were eligible for PITC, and just over half (1,534, 54.2%) underwent HIV testing. Eighty-two children tested HIV-positive, and nearly all of them received counselling, medication, and follow-up care. HCWs offered the test to around 75% of those eligible. The most frequent explanation given by HCWs for a diagnostic test not being offered was that the child was accompanied by a guardian not appropriate for providing consent (401 occasions, 59%); Other reasons given were a lack of available counsellors or test kits and counsellors refusing to conduct the test. The likelihood of being offered the test was lower for children not exhibiting symptoms (such as persistent skin problems), older children, or those attending with a male or a younger guardian. In addition, over 100 guardians or parents provided consent but left before the child could be tested.
The researchers also conducted semi-structured interviews with 12 clinic nurses and counsellors (two from each clinic) to explore challenges to implementation of PITC. The researchers recorded the factors associated with testing not taking place, either when offered to eligible children or when HCWs declined to offer the test. The interviewees identified the frequent absence or unavailability of parents or legal guardians as an obstacle, and showed uncertainty or misconceptions around whether testing of the guardian was mandatory (versus recommended) and whether specifically a parent (if one was living) must provide consent. The interviews also revealed HCW concerns about the availability of adequate counselling and child services, and fears that a child might experience maltreatment if he or she tested positive. HCWs also noted long waiting times and test kits being out of stock as practical hindrances to testing.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Prevalence of HIV was high among the children tested, validating the need for PITC in sub-Saharan health care settings. Although 76% of eligible attendees were offered testing, the authors note that this is likely higher than in routine settings because the researchers were actively recording reasons for not offering testing and counselling, which may have encouraged heath care staff to offer PITC more often than usual. The researchers outline strategies that may improve PITC rates and testing acceptance for Zimbabwe and other sub-Saharan settings. These strategies include developing clear laws and guidance concerning guardianship and proxy consent when testing older children for HIV, training HCWs around these policies, strengthening legislation to address discrimination, and increasing public awareness about HIV infection in older children.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001649.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Davies and Kalk
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS publishes an annual report on the global AIDS epidemic, which provides information on progress towards eliminating new HIV infections
The World Health Organization has more information on mother-to-child transmission of HIV
The World Health Organization's website also has information about treatment for children living with HIV
Personal stories about living with HIV/AIDS, including stories from young people infected with HIV, are available through Avert, through NAM/aidsmap, and through the charity website Healthtalkonline
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001649
PMCID: PMC4035250  PMID: 24866209
14.  Road Trauma in Teenage Male Youth with Childhood Disruptive Behavior Disorders: A Population Based Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(11):e1000369.
Donald Redelmeier and colleagues conducted a population-based case-control study of 16-19-year-old males hospitalized for road trauma or appendicitis and showed that disruptive behavior disorders explained a significant amount of road trauma in this group.
Background
Teenage male drivers contribute to a large number of serious road crashes despite low rates of driving and excellent physical health. We examined the amount of road trauma involving teenage male youth that might be explained by prior disruptive behavior disorders (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder).
Methods and Findings
We conducted a population-based case-control study of consecutive male youth between age 16 and 19 years hospitalized for road trauma (cases) or appendicitis (controls) in Ontario, Canada over 7 years (April 1, 2002 through March 31, 2009). Using universal health care databases, we identified prior psychiatric diagnoses for each individual during the decade before admission. Overall, a total of 3,421 patients were admitted for road trauma (cases) and 3,812 for appendicitis (controls). A history of disruptive behavior disorders was significantly more frequent among trauma patients than controls (767 of 3,421 versus 664 of 3,812), equal to a one-third increase in the relative risk of road trauma (odds ratio  =  1.37, 95% confidence interval 1.22–1.54, p<0.001). The risk was evident over a range of settings and after adjustment for measured confounders (odds ratio 1.38, 95% confidence interval 1.21–1.56, p<0.001). The risk explained about one-in-20 crashes, was apparent years before the event, extended to those who died, and persisted among those involved as pedestrians.
Conclusions
Disruptive behavior disorders explain a significant amount of road trauma in teenage male youth. Programs addressing such disorders should be considered to prevent injuries.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In the latest World Health Organization (WHO) global burden of disease list, road traffic crashes are currently ranked eighth but are predicted to take fourth place by 2030 (by which time, road traffic deaths are likely to increase by more than 80% in developing countries and to decrease by nearly 30% in industrialized countries.) Every year, road traffic crashes kill an estimated 1.2 million people world-wide and injure or disable a further 20–60 million. Furthermore, the economic consequences of road traffic crashes account for about 2% of the gross national product of the entire global economy.
90% of road traffic deaths occur in developing countries where pedestrians, cyclists, and users of two-wheel vehicles (scooters, motorbikes) are the most vulnerable. In industrialized countries, teenage male drivers are the single most risky demographic group, with an incidence of road traffic crashes of twice that of the population average. Also, male teenagers are sometimes a hazard to other road users and contribute to more fatalities in older pedestrians than older drivers. Furthermore, teenage male drivers involved in serious crashes can have ongoing health care needs but are often resistant to standard road safety advice.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous studies have suggested that disruptive behavior disorders might contribute to the risk of road traffic crashes in male teenagers but methodological problems with these studies make these results unclear. Given the importance of this topic, authorities have called for more research into the full range of behavioral disorders and relevant populations. This study attempted to avoid the methodological problems of previous studies and to rigorously assess whether disruptive behavior disorders predispose male teenagers to road traffic crashes.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a 7-year population-based case-control study in Ontario, Canada of consecutive male teenagers aged between 16 and 19 years who were admitted to a hospital due to a road traffic crash, including those who were pedestrians. For the controls, the researchers used consecutive males in the same age range who were admitted to the same hospitals during the same time interval for acute appendicitis (which is common and generally unrelated to traumatic injury). For each participant in the study, the authors used universal health care databases in Canada's single-payer health care system to identify relevant psychiatric diagnoses (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder) during the decade before admission.
During the study period, 3,421 male teenagers were admitted to hospital as the result of a road traffic crash and 3,812 male teenagers were admitted to hospital for appendicitis. A history of disruptive behavior disorders was significantly more frequent among male teenagers admitted for road traffic crashes than controls (767 of 3,421 versus 664 of 3,812) giving an odds ratio 1.37. This higher risk was still present after the researchers adjusted for possible confounding factors (such as age, social status, and home location) and accounted for about one-in-20 road traffic crashes, including male teenagers who had died and those involved as pedestrians.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this study suggest that disruptive behavior disorders explain a significant amount of road traffic crashes experienced in male teenagers. Overall, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder are associated with about a one-third increase in the risk of a road traffic crash (which is similar to the relative risk among individuals treated for epilepsy.) As in previous studies in this area, some methodological problems may affect the interpretation of these findings. As this study did not document who was “at fault,” an alternative interpretation might be that behavioral disorders impair a teenager's ability to avoid a mishap initiated by someone else. Most importantly, the observed increase in risk as pedestrians indicates that male teenagers who abstain from driving do not escape the danger of road traffic crashes.
The researchers stress that any increased risk of road traffic crashes associated with disruptive behavior disorders in male teenagers does not justify withholding a driver's license, especially as many such disorders can be effectively treated or, indeed, because it does not address the issue of the increased risk for those teenagers who were pedestrians. Instead, they suggest that disruptive behavior disorders could be considered as contributors to road traffic crashes—analogous to seizure disorders and some other medical diseases. Therefore, greater attention by primary care physicians, psychiatrists, and community health workers might be helpful since interventions can perhaps reduce the risk including medical treatments and avoidance of distractions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000369.
The World Health Organization has information on road traffic crashes
The US National Institutes of Health has information about behavior disorders in children as well as UK-based Kids Development
The Ontarion Ministry of Transportation has information on annual roadway collisions in Ontario
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000369
PMCID: PMC2981585  PMID: 21125017
15.  Delivery of Confidential Care to Adolescent Males 
Purpose
Primary care providers’ (PCPs’) provision of time alone with an adolescent without the parents present (henceforth referred to as “confidential care”) has a significant impact on adolescents’ disclosure of risk behavior. To inform the development of interventions to improve PCPs’ delivery of confidential care, we obtained the perspectives of adolescent males and their mothers about the health care concerns of adolescent males and the provision of confidential care.
Methods
This focus-group study (5 groups: 2 with adolescent males and 2 with mothers) used standard qualitative methods for analysis. We recruited mother/son dyads who had been seen at urban primary care practices.
Results
Adolescents’ health concerns focused on pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections; mothers took a broader view. Many adolescents felt that PCPs often delivered safe sex counseling in a superficial, impersonal manner that did not add much value to what they already knew, and that their PCP’s principal role was limited to performing sexually transmitted infection testing. Though adolescents cited a number of advantages of confidential care and disclosure, they expressed some general mistrust in PCPs and concerns about limits of confidentiality. Rapport and relationship building with their PCP are key elements to adolescents’ comfort and increased disclosure. Overall, mothers viewed confidential care positively, especially in the context of continuity of care, but many felt excluded.
Conclusions
To increase adolescents’ perception of the relevance of primary care and to foster disclosure during health encounters, our participants described the critical nature of a strong doctor–patient relationship and positive physician demeanor and personalized messages, especially in the context of a continuity relationship. Regular, routine inclusion of confidential care time starting early in adolescence, as well as discussion of the purpose and limitations of confidentiality with parents and adolescents, could lead to greater parental comfort with confidential care and increased disclosure by the adolescent.
doi:10.3122/jabfm.2010.06.100072
PMCID: PMC3986269  PMID: 21057068
Confidentiality; Adolescents; Focus Groups; Primary Care
16.  The Uptake and Accuracy of Oral Kits for HIV Self-Testing in High HIV Prevalence Setting: A Cross-Sectional Feasibility Study in Blantyre, Malawi 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(10):e1001102.
Augustine Choko and colleagues assess the uptake and acceptability of home-based supervised oral HIV self-testing in Malawi, demonstrating the feasibility of this approach in a high-prevalence, low-income environment.
Background
Although HIV testing and counseling (HTC) uptake has increased dramatically in Africa, facility-based services are unlikely to ever meet ongoing need to the full. A major constraint in scaling up community and home-based HTC services is the unacceptability of receiving HTC from a provider known personally to prospective clients. We investigated the potential of supervised oral HIV self-testing from this perspective.
Methods and Findings
Adult members of 60 households and 72 members of community peer groups in urban Blantyre, Malawi, were selected using population-weighted random cluster sampling. Participants were offered self-testing plus confirmatory HTC (parallel testing with two rapid finger-prick blood tests), standard HTC alone, or no testing. 283 (95.6%) of 298 selected adults participated, including 136 (48.0%) men. 175 (61.8%) had previously tested (19 known HIV positive), although only 64 (21.5%) within the last year. HIV prevalence was 18.5%. Among 260 (91.9%) who opted to self-test after brief demonstration and illustrated instructions, accuracy was 99.2% (two false negatives). Although 98.5% rated the test “not hard at all to do,” 10.0% made minor procedural errors, and 10.0% required extra help. Most participants indicated willingness to accept self-test kits, but not HTC, from a neighbor (acceptability 94.5% versus 46.8%, p = 0.001).
Conclusions
Oral supervised self-testing was highly acceptable and accurate, although minor errors and need for supervisory support were common. This novel option has potential for high uptake at local community level if it can be supervised and safely linked to counseling and care.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
According to the World Health Organization, despite the dramatic increase in the acceptability of HIV testing, more than 60% of people living with HIV do not know their status—a factor that is seriously hampering the global response to the HIV epidemic. The inconvenience and cost involved in visiting services in addition to a general aversion to visiting health facilities appear to be major barriers. Home-based HIV-testing services bypass these obstacles and are being adopted as national policy in a number of countries. However, given the tension between confidentiality and convenience, many people do not want to be counseled and tested by someone they know well, thus creating logistical difficulties and added costs to the provision of home-based testing services.
Why Was This Study Done?
Self-testing in private has considerable potential to contribute to first-time and repeat HIV testing but raises a number of issues, such as accuracy, the potential for adverse psychological reactions in the absence of face-to-face counseling, and the difficulty in organizing subsequent links to HIV/AIDS care. Self-testing has been used for over a decade in the US, but given the need to further scale up HIV testing and counseling in Africa, and to encourage regular repeat testing, the researchers conducted a mixed quantitative and qualitative study of self-testing for HIV using oral test kits to test whether supervised oral self-testing could yield accurate results. The researchers also wanted to explore reasons for accepting self-testing and respondents' preferences for HIV testing.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted their study in four community health worker catchment areas in three high-density residential suburbs of Blantyre, Malawi. Between March and July 2010, the researchers randomly selected two groups of participants from within these catchment areas and all adults were then invited to participate in interview and optional HIV testing and counseling carried out in their home. Participants were offered the choice between self-test for HIV followed by standard voluntary counseling and testing, standard voluntary counseling and testing only, and no HIV testing or counseling. Pre-and post-test counseling was provided to all participants and after self-testing, a counselor reread the self-test kit, completed a checklist of potential errors and confirmed the result using two rapid HIV test kits run in parallel from a finger-prick blood specimen. All participants testing positive were referred to the nearest primary health center.
All 260 participants who consented to voluntary counseling and testing also opted to self-test, with the remaining 23 (8.1%) choosing not to test. HIV prevalence was 18.5% (48 of 260) and HIV prevalence among participants who had previously tested HIV-negative or not tested at all was 12.0% (29 of 241 participants) meaning that less than half of HIV-infected participants were previously diagnosed, and just over half of undiagnosed HIV infections were in individuals who had previously tested HIV negative. The researchers found self-testing to be highly accurate, with clear and concordant results for 256 (99.2%) of 258 participants with both self-test and blood results. Overall sensitivity for self-test self-read was 97.9% with specificity of 100%. At exit interview, 256 (98.5%) of participants rated self-testing as “very easy” to do but additional help was requested by 26 (10%) of self test participants and procedural errors were identified for 26 participants (10%). Importantly, self-testing was the preferred option for future HIV tests for 56.4% of participants and the most common choice for both men and women.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this study show that self-testing for HIV (after a brief demonstration and illustrated instructions) is highly accurate and is widely accepted by the community, indicating that there is strong community readiness to adopt self-testing alongside other HIV counseling and testing strategies in high HIV prevalence settings in urban Africa. Self-testing may prove especially valuable for encouraging regular repeat testing, couple testing, and first-time testing in otherwise hard-to-reach groups such as men and older individuals. Finally, given the accuracy achieved and strong preferences around future testing, further exploration of self-testing options could help to make progress towards meeting universal access goals.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001102.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Walensky and Bassett
Recently published WHO Guidelines explain the principles and processes of adapting HIV guidelines into national programs
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control's initiative Act against AIDS has some user-friendly information on the different types of HIV tests available
A WHO document discusses existing practices and surrounding issues related with HIV self-testing among health workers in sub-Saharan Africa
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001102
PMCID: PMC3186813  PMID: 21990966
17.  “A Good Personal Scientific Relationship”: Philip Morris Scientists and the Chulabhorn Research Institute, Bangkok 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e238.
Background
This paper examines the efforts of consultants affiliated with Philip Morris (PM), the world's leading transnational tobacco corporation, to influence scientific research and training in Thailand via the Chulabhorn Research Institute (CRI). A leading Southeast Asian institute for environmental health science, the CRI is headed by Professor Dr. Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn, the daughter of the King of Thailand, and it has assumed international significance via its designation as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in December 2005.
Methods and Findings
This paper analyses previously confidential tobacco industry documents that were made publicly available following litigation in the United States. PM documents reveal that ostensibly independent overseas scientists, now identified as industry consultants, were able to gain access to the Thai scientific community. Most significantly, PM scientist Roger Walk has established close connections with the CRI. Documents indicate that Walk was able to use such links to influence the study and teaching of environmental toxicology in the institute and to develop relations with key officials and local scientists so as to advance the interests of PM within Thailand and across Asia. While sensitivities surrounding royal patronage of the CRI make public criticism extremely difficult, indications of ongoing involvement by tobacco industry consultants suggest the need for detailed scrutiny of such relationships.
Conclusions
The establishment of close links with the CRI advances industry strategies to influence scientific research and debate around tobacco and health, particularly regarding secondhand smoke, to link with academic institutions, and to build relationships with national elites. Such strategies assume particular significance in the national and regional contexts presented here amid the globalisation of the tobacco pandemic. From an international perspective, particular concern is raised by the CRI's recently awarded status as a WHO Collaborating Centre. Since the network of WHO Collaborating Centres rests on the principle of “using national institutions for international purposes,” the documents presented below suggest that more rigorous safeguards are required to ensure that such use advances public health goals rather than the objectives of transnational corporations.
Jeff Collin and Ross MacKenzie analyze tobacco industry documents and find that Philip Morris consultants were able to gain access to a Thai research institute that is a WHO Collaborating Centre.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Tobacco use kills 5.4 million people a year (one person every six seconds) and accounts for one in ten adult deaths worldwide. Globally, the use of tobacco is on the rise, especially in developing countries, which have become a major target for tobacco industry marketing. The tobacco industry has worked hard to try and influence public perceptions about the risks of smoking and the risk of inhaling secondhand smoke (passive smoking). The industry has used a variety of tactics to downplay the health hazards of smoking or inhaling secondhand smoke—two examples are publishing articles casting doubts about the health hazards of tobacco and funding research that is biased toward giving pro-industry results. Another tactic is for tobacco industry consultants to try and gain entry to universities and other academic centers to see if they can influence research and teaching activities.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers were concerned that consultants from the tobacco company Philip Morris had gained access to an academic research center in Thailand called the Chulabhorn Research Institute (CRI). The CRI is an internationally renowned teaching institution for a variety of scientific disciplines, including environmental toxicology (the study of how chemicals in the environment, such as tobacco smoke, can affect human health), biomedicine, and biotechnology. The institute has secured funding from the Thai government, the Association of Southeast Nations and the United Nations Development Programme. In 2005 the institute's environmental toxicology unit was designated a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre. WHO Collaborating Centres are “institutions such as research institutes, parts of universities or academies, that are designated by the Director-General of the WHO to carry out activities in support of the WHO's programs” (http://www.who.int/collaboratingcentres/en/). The researchers were concerned that Philip Morris consultants had been able to develop relationships with the CRI to help advance the company's interests.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed previously confidential tobacco industry documents that were made publicly available online following litigation in the United States. They searched two online collections of industry documents—the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library and Tobacco Documents Online—as well as the online collections operated by US-based tobacco companies. They found that consultants to Philip Morris were able to gain access to the scientific community in Thailand. A Philip Morris scientist named Roger Walk was able to establish close connections to the CRI, and he used these connections to influence research and teaching activities at the CRI on environmental toxicology. Walk was also able to build relationships with government officials and scientists in Thailand to help advance the interests of Philip Morris in the country and across Asia.
What Do these Findings Mean?
This study provides evidence that the tobacco industry has established close links with a research institute in Thailand that collaborates with the WHO, and has been able to influence the institute's teaching curriculum and research. Such links are of great concern to the public health community, which is working hard to reduce deaths and disease due to tobacco. These links raise the possibility that the tobacco industry is managing to influence medical research and teaching at academic institutions. The WHO has stated that a firewall is in place between itself and the tobacco industry—but the study authors argue, based on their findings, that “this firewall is not impenetrable.” The study findings, they conclude, highlight a challenge posed to international tobacco control efforts, especially with respect to Article 5.3 of an international treaty called the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; Article 5.3 addresses the need to protect public health policies from the vested interests of the tobacco industry. The authors say that better safeguards must be put in place to prevent tobacco companies from thwarting public health goals.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050238.
The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library contains over 9.7 million documents created by tobacco companies
Tobacco Documents Online contains over 4 million tobacco industry documents
Over 900 WHO Collaborating Centres are at work in 99 Member States on many health disciplines
The WHO held an inquiry in 2000 into possible tobacco industry influence over the organization (and over other UN agencies), and has published its recommendations in response to this inquiry
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is an international treaty on controlling tobacco
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050238
PMCID: PMC2605886  PMID: 19108600
18.  Managing communication with young people who have a potentially life threatening chronic illness: qualitative study of patients and parents 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2003;326(7384):305.
Objectives
To examine young people's and parents' accounts of communication about cancer in childhood.
Design
Semistructured interviews analysed using the constant comparative method.
Setting
Paediatric oncology unit.
Participants
13 families, comprising 19 parents (13 mothers, six fathers) and 13 patients aged 8-17 years, recruited from one paediatric oncology unit. The patients had cancer or brain tumour.
Results
Most parents described acting in an executive-like capacity, managing what and how their children were told about their illness, particularly at the time of diagnosis. Their accounts were shaped by concerns to manage their identity as strong and optimistic parents and to protect their child's wellbeing. The patients identified elements of their parents' role that both facilitated and constrained their communication, and while they welcomed their parents' involvement, some expressed unease with the constraining aspects of their parents' role. Some young people described feeling marginalised in consultations and pointed to difficulties they experienced in encounters with some doctors.
Conclusions
There are difficulties in managing communication with young people who have a chronic, life threatening illness. Health professionals need to be aware of how the social positioning of young people (relative to adults) and the executive role of parents can contribute to the marginalisation of young people and hamper the development of successful relationships between themselves and young patients.
What is already known on this topicThe BMA has supported the principle of open communication with young patientsYoung people are sometimes excluded from participating in consultations and parents are reluctant to communicate openly with their seriously ill childrenWhat this study addsParents take on an executive-like role, managing what and how their children are told about their illnessesThis role both facilitates and constrains communication with young peopleSome young people feel marginalised in consultations—they described unease with this and problems in their relationships with some doctors
PMCID: PMC143524  PMID: 12574042
19.  Adult Consequences of Late Adolescent Alcohol Consumption: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(2):e1000413.
In a systematic review of cohort studies of adolescent drinking and later outcomes, Jim McCambridge and colleagues show that although studies suggest links to worse adult physical and mental health and social consequences, existing evidence is of poor quality.
Background
Although important to public policy, there have been no rigorous evidence syntheses of the long-term consequences of late adolescent drinking.
Methods and Findings
This systematic review summarises evidence from general population cohort studies of drinking between 15–19 years old and any subsequent outcomes aged 20 or greater, with at least 3 years of follow-up study. Fifty-four studies were included, of which 35 were assessed to be vulnerable to bias and/or confounding. The principal findings are: (1) There is consistent evidence that higher alcohol consumption in late adolescence continues into adulthood and is also associated with alcohol problems including dependence; (2) Although a number of studies suggest links to adult physical and mental health and social consequences, existing evidence is of insufficient quality to warrant causal inferences at this stage.
Conclusions
There is an urgent need for high quality long-term prospective cohort studies in order to better understand the public health burden that is consequent on late adolescent drinking, both in relation to adult drinking and more broadly. Reducing drinking during late adolescence is likely to be important for preventing long-term adverse consequences as well as protecting against more immediate harms.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
The effects of alcohol intoxication (drunkenness), dependence (habitual, compulsive, and long-term drinking), and the associated biochemical changes, have wide-ranging health and social consequences, some of which can be lethal. Worldwide, alcohol causes 2.5 million deaths (3.8% of total) and 69.4 million (4.5% of total) of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). Unintentional injuries alone account for about one-third of the 2.5 million deaths, whereas neuro-psychiatric conditions account for almost 40%. There is also a causal relationship between alcohol consumption and more than 60 types of disease and injury; worldwide, alcohol is estimated to cause about 20%–30% cases of esophageal cancer, liver cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, homicide, epilepsy, and motor vehicle crashes. There is increasing evidence that, in addition to the volume of alcohol consumed, the pattern of drinking has an effect on health outcomes, with binge drinking found to be particularly harmful. As the majority of people who binge drink are teenagers, this group may be particularly vulnerable to the damaging health effects of alcohol, leading to global concern about the drinking trends and patterns among young people.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although there have been many published cohort studies reporting the longer term harms associated with adolescent drinking, the strength of this evidence remains unclear, which has implications for the objectives of interventions. For example, if adolescent drinking does not cause later difficulties, early intervention on, and management of, the acute consequences of alcohol consumption, such as antisocial behaviour and unintentional injuries, may be the most appropriate community safety and public health responses. However, if there is a causal relationship, there needs to be an additional approach that addresses the cumulative harmful effects of alcohol. The researchers conducted this systematic review of cohort studies, as this method provides the strongest observational study design to evaluate evidence of causality.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers conducted a comprehensive literature review to identify relevant studies that met their inclusion criteria, which were: (1) data collection from at least two points in time, at least 3 years apart, from the same cohort; (2) data collection regarding alcohol consumption between the ages of 15 and 19 years old; and (3) inclusion of a report of at least one quantitative measure of effect, such as an odds ratio, between alcohol involvement and any later outcome assessed at age 20 or greater. The majority of these studies were multiple reports from ten cohorts and approximately half were from the US. The researchers then evaluated the strength of causal inference possible in these studies by assessing whether all possible contributing factors(confounders) had been taken into account, identifying studies that had follow-up rates of 80% or greater, and which had sample sizes of 1,000 participants or more.
Using these methods, the researchers found that, overall, there is consistent evidence that higher alcohol consumption in late adolescence continues into adulthood and is also associated with alcohol problems, including dependence. For example, one population-based cohort showed that late adolescent drinking can cause early death among men, mainly through car crashes and suicides, and there was a large evidence base supporting the ongoing impacts of late adolescent drinking on adult drinking behaviours—although most of these studies could not strongly support causal inferences because of their weak designs. The researchers also concluded that although a number of studies suggested links with late adolescent drinking to adult physical and mental health and social consequences, this evidence is generally of poor quality and insufficient to infer causality.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The results of this study show that that the evidence-base on the long-term consequences of late adolescent drinking is not as extensive or compelling as it needs to be. The researchers stress that there is an urgent need for high quality long-term prospective cohort studies in order to better understand the public health burden associated with adolescent drinking in general and in relation to adult drinking. However, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that reducing drinking during late adolescence is likely to be important for preventing long-term adverse consequences as well as protecting against more immediate harmful consequences harms.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000413.
The World Health Organization has information about the global incidence of alcohol consumption
The US-based Marin Institute has information about alcohol and young people
The BBC also has a site on late adolescent drinking
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000413
PMCID: PMC3035611  PMID: 21346802
20.  Suicide after Leaving the UK Armed Forces —A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(3):e1000026.
Background
Few studies have examined suicide risk in individuals once they have left the military. We aimed to investigate the rate, timing, and risk factors for suicide in all those who had left the UK Armed Forces (1996–2005).
Methods and Findings
We carried out a cohort study of ex-Armed Forces personnel by linking national databases of discharged personnel and suicide deaths (which included deaths receiving either a suicide or undetermined verdict). Comparisons were made with both general and serving populations. During the study period 233,803 individuals left the Armed Forces and 224 died by suicide. Although the overall rate of suicide was not greater than that in the general population, the risk of suicide in men aged 24 y and younger who had left the Armed Forces was approximately two to three times higher than the risk for the same age groups in the general and serving populations (age-specific rate ratios ranging from 170 to 290). The risk of suicide for men aged 30–49 y was lower than that in the general population. The risk was persistent but may have been at its highest in the first 2 y following discharge. The risk of suicide was greatest in males, those who had served in the Army, those with a short length of service, and those of lower rank. The rate of contact with specialist mental health was lowest in the age groups at greatest risk of suicide (14% for those aged under 20 y, 20% for those aged 20–24 y).
Conclusions
Young men who leave the UK Armed Forces were at increased risk of suicide. This may reflect preservice vulnerabilities rather than factors related to service experiences or discharge. Preventive strategies might include practical and psychological preparation for discharge and encouraging appropriate help-seeking behaviour once individuals have left the services.
Navneet Kapur and colleagues find that young men who leave the United Kingdom Armed Forces are at increased risk of suicide.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Leaving any job can be hard but for people leaving the armed forces the adjustment to their new circumstances can sometimes be particularly difficult. For example, ex-military personnel may face obstacles to getting a new job, particularly if they were injured in action. Some become homeless. Others turn to alcohol or drugs or suffer mental illnesses such as depression. These things probably aren't common but those who leave the armed forces might also be at higher risk of suicide than the general population.
Why Was This Study Done?
Serving members of the UK Armed Forces (the British Army, the Naval Service, and the Royal Air Force) have a lower rate of suicide than the general UK population. The lower rate is probably due to “the healthy worker effect” (i.e., workers tend to be healthier than the general population, since the latter includes people unable to work due to illness or disability). However, there are anecdotal reports that ex-military personnel are more likely to die by suicide than are members of the general population. If these reports are correct, then measures should be put into place to prepare people for leaving the Armed Forces and to provide more support for them once they have left the military. The authors of this new study say that no previous studies had systematically examined suicide risk in individuals leaving the Armed Forces. In this new study, therefore, the researchers examine the suicide rate, timing, and risk factors for suicide in a large group (cohort) of former members of the UK Armed Forces.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers linked data on everyone who left the UK Armed Forces between 1996 and 2005 with information on suicides collected by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide. Since 1996, the Inquiry has been collecting information about all suicides (defined as cases where the coroner has given a verdict of suicide or of “undetermined death”) in the UK, including information about whether the deceased used mental health services in the year before they died. The aim of the Inquiry is to reduce the risk of suicides (and homicides) in the UK by improving the country's mental health services. Between 1996 and 2005, 233,803 people left the Armed Forces and 224 (nearly all men) died by suicide. The researchers' statistical analysis of these data indicates that the overall suicide rate in the ex-military personnel was similar to that in the general population. However, the risk of suicide in men aged 24 y or younger who had left the military was 2–3 times greater than that in the same age group in both the general male population and in men serving in the Armed Forces. The risk of dying by suicide was highest in the first 2 y after leaving the military but remained raised for several years. Risk factors for suicide among ex-military personnel included being male, serving in the Army, having a short length of service, and being of lower rank. Only a fifth of the ex-military personnel who committed suicide had been in contact with mental health services in the year before they died, and the rate of contact with these services was lowest among individuals in the age groups at the highest risk of suicide.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that young men leaving the UK Armed Forces are at increased risk of suicide, particularly shortly after leaving. The study was not able to prove the reason for this increased risk, but the authors suggest three main possibilities: (1) the stress of transitioning to civilian life, (2) exposure to adverse experiences while in the military, or (3) a vulnerability to suicide before entering the military. The study provides some evidence to support the third hypothesis—untrained personnel with short lengths of service have a particularly high risk of dying by suicide after leaving the military, suggesting that the increased suicide risk may reflect a pre-military vulnerability. The researchers suggest that practical and psychological preparation might be helpful for people leaving the Armed Forces and that appropriate help-seeking behavior could be encouraged in these individuals. In the UK, the National Health Service is currently piloting a community-based mental health service for military veterans, characterized by regional clinical networks involving partnerships of relevant experts.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000026.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Jitender Sareen and Shay-Lee Belik
The Manchester University Centre for Suicide Prevention provides information about the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide and about other research into suicide, and a list of useful Web sites and help lines for people going through crises
A recent article in the Observer newspaper by Mark Townsend discusses the problems facing UK military personnel when they leave the Armed Forces
Information about suicides among serving members of the UK Armed Forces is published by the Defence Analytical Services Agency
The UK National Health Service provides information about suicide, including statistics about suicide in the UK and links to other resources
MedlinePlus also provides links to further information and advice about suicide
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000026
PMCID: PMC2650723  PMID: 19260757
21.  Young people's views on the potential use of telemedicine consultations for sexual health: results of a national survey 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:285.
Background
Young people are disproportionately affected by sexually transmissible infections in Australia but face barriers to accessing sexual health services, including concerns over confidentiality and, for some, geographic remoteness. A possible innovation to increase access to services is the use of telemedicine.
Methods
Young people's (aged 16-24) pre-use views on telephone and webcam consultations for sexual health were investigated through a widely-advertised national online survey in Australia. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the study sample and chi-square, Mann-Whitney U test, or t-tests were used to assess associations. Multinomial logistic regression was used to explore the association between the three-level outcome variable (first preference in person, telephone or webcam, and demographic and behavioural variables); odds ratios and 95%CI were calculated using in person as the reference category. Free text responses were analysed thematically.
Results
A total of 662 people completed the questionnaire. Overall, 85% of the sample indicated they would be willing to have an in-person consultation with a doctor, 63% a telephone consultation, and 29% a webcam consultation. Men, respondents with same-sex partners, and respondents reporting three or more partners in the previous year were more willing to have a webcam consultation. Imagining they lived 20 minutes from a doctor, 83% of respondents reported that their first preference would be an in-person consultation with a doctor; if imagining they lived two hours from a doctor, 51% preferred a telephone consultation. The main objections to webcam consultations in the free text responses were privacy and security concerns relating to the possibility of the webcam consultation being recorded, saved, and potentially searchable and retrievable online.
Conclusions
This study is the first we are aware of that seeks the views of young people on telemedicine and access to sexual health services. Although only 29% of respondents were willing to have a webcam consultation, such a service may benefit youth who may not otherwise access a sexual health service. The acceptability of webcam consultations may be increased if medical clinics provide clear and accessible privacy policies ensuring that consultations will not be recorded or saved.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-285
PMCID: PMC3213067  PMID: 22026640
22.  Doctors accessing mental-health services: an exploratory study 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000017.
Objective
To develop a more in-depth understanding of how doctors do and do not access mental healthcare from the perspectives of doctors themselves and people they have contact with through the process.
Design
Qualitative methodology was used with semistructured interviews transcribed and analysed using Grounded Theory. Participants were 11 doctors with experience as patients of psychiatrists, four doctor and four non-doctor personal contacts (friends, family and colleagues) and eight treating psychiatrists.
Results
Participants described experiencing unrealistic expectations and a harsh work environment with poor self care and denial and minimisation of signs of mental health difficulties. Doctor contacts described particular difficulty in responding effectively to doctor friends, family and colleagues in need of mental healthcare. In contrast, non-doctor personal contacts were more able to identify and speak about concerns but not necessarily to enable accessing adequate mental-health services.
Conclusions
Three areas with potential to address in supporting doctors' accessing of appropriate healthcare have been identified: (1) processes to enable doctors to maintain high standards of functioning with less use of minimisation and denial; (2) improving the quality and effectiveness of informal doctor-to-doctor conversations about mental-health issues among themselves; (3) role of non-doctor support people in identifying doctors' mental-health needs and enabling their access to mental healthcare. Further research in all these areas has the potential to contribute to improving doctors' access to appropriate mental healthcare and may be of value for the general population.
Article summary
Article focus
Doctors' accessment of adequate mental healthcare is less than optimal.
Family and community contacts have an important role in accessing mental healthcare.
Our understanding of the processes related to doctors accessing mental healthcare can be improved by exploring perspectives of doctor patients, their support people and treating psychiatrists.
Key messages
Doctors' unrealistic expectations of themselves and associated minimisation and denial of a range of self care needs may function as a barrier to accessing mental healthcare.
Addressing how doctors respond to other doctors in informal conversations indicating mental healthcare needs may be helpful in improving access to care.
Non-doctor support people may have a valuable role in enabling doctors to access appropriate mental healthcare.
All these areas need further research.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This is the first study of its kind and generates new insights in an important area.
Because of challenges in recruiting doctors with experience as patients of psychiatrists, a hard-to-reach group, the sample is small and not broadly representative.
doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2010-000017
PMCID: PMC3191385  PMID: 22021726
Child & adolescent psychiatry; adult psychiatry; physicians' health; accessing healthcare; impaired physician; mental health
23.  Young women's decisions to accept chlamydia screening: influences of stigma and doctor-patient interactions 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:425.
Background
An understanding of the factors that encourage young women to accept, and discourage them from accepting, STI (sexually transmitted infection) testing is needed to underpin opportunistic screening programs for the STI Chlamydia trachomatis (opportunistic screening involves healthcare professionals offering chlamydia tests to people while they are attending health services for reasons that are usually unrelated to their sexual health). We conducted a qualitative study to identify and explore: how young women would feel about being offered opportunistic tests for chlamydia?; how young women would like to be offered screening, and who they wanted to be offered screening by?; and what factors would influence young women's partner notification preferences for chlamydia (who they would notify in the event of a positive diagnosis of chlamydia, how they would want to do this).
Methods
Semi-structured interviews with 35 young women between eighteen and twenty nine years of age. The study was conducted in the Dublin and Galway regions of the Republic of Ireland. Young adults were recruited from General Practice (GP) practices, Third Level College health services, Family Planning clinics and specialist STI treatment services.
Results
Respondents were worried that their identities would become stigmatised if they accepted screening. Younger respondents and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds had the greatest stigma-related concerns. Most respondents indicated that they would accept screening if it was offered to them, however; accepting screening was seen as a correct, responsible action to engage in. Respondents wanted to be offered screening by younger female healthcare professionals. Respondents were willing to inform their current partners about positive chlamydia diagnoses, but were more ambivalent about informing their previous partners.
Conclusions
If an effort is not put into reducing young women's stigma-related concerns the population coverage of Chlamydia screening might be reduced.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-425
PMCID: PMC2918556  PMID: 20642845
24.  Young women's accounts of factors influencing their use and non-use of emergency contraception: in-depth interview study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2002;325(7377):1393.
Objectives
To explore young women's accounts of their use and non-use of emergency contraception.
Design
Qualitative study using in-depth interviews.
Participants
30 women aged 16-25; participants from socially deprived inner city areas were specifically included.
Setting
Community, service, and educational settings in England.
Results
Young women's accounts of their non-use of emergency contraception principally concerned evaluations of the risk conferred by different contraceptive behaviours, their evaluations of themselves in needing emergency contraception, and personal difficulties in asking for emergency contraception.
Conclusions
The attitudes and concerns of young women, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, may make them less able or willing than others to take advantage of recent increases in access to emergency contraception. Interventions that aim to increase the use of emergency contraception need to address the factors that influence young women's non-use of emergency contraception.
What is already known on this topicLimited knowledge of, or poor access to, emergency contraception, and concerns about side effects and moral issues may reduce the use of emergency contraception in women at riskYoung people can be embarrassed about using contraception servicesInterventions to increase knowledge of and access to emergency contraception have had limited success among teenagersWhat this study addsPerceptions of low vulnerability to pregnancy, negative self evaluations about the need for such contraception, and concerns about what others think deter young women from using emergency contraceptionThese women find it difficult to ask for emergency contraceptionThe attitudes and concerns of young women, especially those from deprived inner city areas, may render them least willing and able to obtain emergency contraception
PMCID: PMC138517  PMID: 12480855
25.  Knowledge & attitudes of mental health professionals regarding psychiatric research 
Background & objectives:
Mental health professionals have varied attitudes and views regarding informed consent and confidentiality protections in psychiatric research and clinical care. The present study was designed to understand the knowledge and views of mental health professionals (MHPs) regarding informed consent and confidentiality protection practices.
Methods:
Mental health professionals (n=121) who were members of the Delhi Psychiatric Society, were invited to participate in this questionnaire-based study of their knowledge and attitudes regarding informed consent and confidentiality. Half of them expressed willingness to discuss participation and gave initial oral consent (n=62); of these, 31 gave written informed consent to participate and completed the questionnaires. The questionnaires included both forced choice (yes / no / do not know) and open-ended questions. Questionnaires content reflected prominent guidelines on informed consent and confidentiality protection.
Results:
Attitudes of the majority of the participants towards informed consent and confidentiality were in line with ethical principles and guidelines. All expressed the opinion that confidentiality should generally be respected and that if confidentiality was breached, there could be mistrust of the professional by the patient/participant. The mean knowledge scores regarding informed consent and confidentiality were 8.55 ± 1.46 and 8.16 ± 1.29, respectively.
Interpretation & conclusions:
The participating mental health professionals appeared to have adequate knowledge of basic ethical guidelines concerning informed consent and confidentiality. Most respondents were aware of ethical issues in research. Given the small sample size and low response rate, the significance of the quantitative analysis must be regarded with modesty, and qualitative analysis of open-ended questions may be more valuable for development of future research. Increased efforts to involve mental health professionals in research on ethical concerns pertinent to their work must be made, and the actual practices of these professionals with regard to ethical guidelines need to be studied.
PMCID: PMC4001336  PMID: 24718399
Confidentiality; ethical guidelines; informed consent; mental health professionals; mental health research

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