More Data Needed on inSPOT's Effectiveness

Kerani, Roxanne Pieper PhD; Golden, Matthew Robert MD

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: May 2012 - Volume 39 - Issue 5 - p 348
doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e31824c1835
Letters to the Editor

Public Health—Seattle and King County HIV/STD Program Seattle, WA University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD Seattle, WA

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To the Editor:

We agree with Hottes and Gilbert1 that additional research focusing on inSPOT users, including both persons who send e-cards and e-card recipients, would be useful. The primary, overarching question of interest related to partner notification Internet sites is whether the sites increase, decrease, or have no effect on partner notification, evaluation, and treatment. Ideally, evaluating inSPOT would involve a control group to allow one to assess what index patients and their partners would have done in the absence of the Internet site. It is important to know how many index cases use inSPOT instead of notifying partners through some other means, how many partners are notified who would not have notified in the absence of the site, and what partners do in response to inSPOT notification compared with notification via other means. Our trial was designed to address the first 2 of these issues.2 Although not definitive, the study's finding that few MSM STD clinic patients want to use inSPOT suggests that the site likely has little impact on the total number of partners notified in the population. That conclusion is also supported by Reitmeijer's time-series analysis, which found little use of inSPOT among STD clinic patients in Denver after introduction of the Internet site into that city.3

To our knowledge, there are no published data on how partners receiving inSPOT cards respond to those cards. Assuming the study Hottes and Gilbert propose achieves a high response rate in e-card recipients, their work has the potential to provide us with that information. Although we would ideally have a control group to help us understand information obtained from partners, having some data on this important topic certainly seems worthwhile and would be a welcome addition to this challenging field of research.

Roxanne Pieper Kerani, PhD

Matthew Robert Golden, MD

Public Health—Seattle and King County

HIV/STD Program

Seattle, WA

University of Washington

Center for AIDS and STD

Seattle, WA

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1. Hottes TS, Gilbert M. Evaluation of online partner notification services like inSPOT requires starting with the client, not the clinic. Sex Transm Dis 2012; 39:348.
2. Kerani RP, Fleming M, DeYoung B, et al.. A randomized, controlled trial of inSPOT and patient-delivered partner therapy for gonorrhea and chlamydial infection among men who have sex with men. Sex Transm Dis 2011; 38:941–946.
3. Rietmeijer CA, Westergaard B, Mickiewicz TA, et al.. Evaluation of an online partner notification program. Sex Transm Dis 2011; 38:359–364.
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