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Evaluation of an Online Partner Notification Program

Rietmeijer, Cornelis A. MD, PhD*†; Westergaard, Benton BA*; Mickiewicz, Theresa A. BS, MPH*; Richardson, Doug MAS*; Ling, Sarah MPH*†; Sapp, Terri*; Jordan, Rebecca BA; Wilmoth, Ralph MPH, MPA†‡; Kachur, Rachel MPH§; McFarlane, Mary PhD§

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: May 2011 - Volume 38 - Issue 5 - p 359-364
doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e31820ef796
Original Study

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.

A sexually transmitted infections clinic-based evaluation of an online partner notification program demonstrated low use of the service despite clinical and nonclinical interventions to enhance awareness of the program.

From the *Internet and STD Center of Excellence, Denver Public Health Department, Denver, CO; †Colorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO; ‡Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, CO; and §Division of STD Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA

The Internet and STD Center for Excellence is supported by the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—APTR/CDC COOPERATIVE AGREEMENT Grant TS-1400.

Correspondence: Cornelis A. Rietmeijer, MD, PhD, Denver Public Health Department, 605 Bannock St, Denver, CO 80204-4507. E-mail:

Received for publication January 20, 2010, and accepted December 14, 2010.

© Copyright 2011 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association