Background: Internet-based programs for sexually transmitted infections (STI)/HIV partner notification have generated considerable interest as public health interventions; yet data are lacking to support widespread dissemination. We report on a clinic-based and web-based evaluation of the Colorado inSPOT online partner notification program.
Methods: Clinic-based surveys were conducted at a large urban STI clinic before and after the implementation of feasible clinic interventions as well as nonclinic campaigns to promote the use of inSPOT Colorado. Questions assessed recognition and use of the site. Website statistics were provided by the inSPOT service, including the number of site hits, e-cards sent, and specific STI exposures identified on the card.
Results: Recognition and use of the service among STI clinic patients remained low (<6%) despite the interventions. Site statistics demonstrated an immediate but quickly diminishing response after placement of a banner ad on a popular gay website. Newspaper advertisements and radio public service announcements showed small increases in website use. Analysis of STIs specified on the e-cards, showed scabies and pediculosis as the most-identified STIs, accounting for nearly 30% of all e-cards sent. Clinic survey data indicated that when respondents were faced with the hypothetical situation of being diagnosed with an STI, more than 90% would notify partners in person; only 5% would use e-mail or the Internet.
Conclusions: Our data did not support the effectiveness of the inSPOT intervention among a predominantly heterosexual population in a large urban STI clinic.