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Evaluation of An Internet Partner Notification Service

Plant, Aaron MPH; Rotblatt, Harlan BA; Montoya, Jorge A. PhD; Rudy, Ellen T. PhD; Kerndt, Peter R. MD, MPH

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: May 2012 - Volume 39 - Issue 5 - p 341–345
doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e31824e5150
Original Study

Background: This article presents an evaluation of, a sexually transmitted disease partner notification Web site in Los Angeles County primarily targeting men who have sex with men (MSM). Since its launch in 2005, this Web site has received more than 400,000 visitors and resulted in nearly 50,000 e-mail postcards sent. However, there have been limited quantitative data concerning use of the service for actual partner notification. This study investigated awareness and use of inSPOTLA among MSM, as well as the effect of an advertising campaign.

Methods: Data from 2 cross-sectional surveys using time-location samples were used for the evaluation, with a baseline survey conducted in 2007 and a follow-up conducted in 2009. The advertising campaign was implemented between the surveys in 2008.

Results: Awareness of inSPOTLA was 15.8% in the baseline survey and 14.4% in the follow-up survey, with no statistically significant difference. Reported use of inSPOTLA for partner notification was less than 2% in both surveys, again with no significant difference. In addition to the surveys, a high-volume sexual health clinic that serves the MSM population in Los Angeles collected data on reason for visit, including referrals from inSPOTLA, from all patients from 2007 through 2009. In 3 years, 2 individuals stated having received an inSPOTLA e-card as the reason for their visit.

Conclusions: While website user statistics seemed to indicate an impressive level of use, our evaluation of inSPOTLA found very limited evidence of program effectiveness for the purpose of actual partner notification among MSM in Los Angeles County.

From the Sexually Transmitted Disease Program, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA

The authors thank Trista Bingham at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health HIV Epidemiology Program for providing technical assistance with the list of MSM venues and survey methodology. They also thank their community partners on the Check Yourself community advisory group and the Check Yourself outreach team for their substantial input regarding the selection of venues and times for the sampling frame.

This study was conducted as routine program evaluation for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and did not receive any funding.

Correspondence: Aaron Plant, MPH, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Sexually Transmitted Disease Program, 2615 S. Grand Ave, Rm 500, Los Angeles, CA 90007. E-mail:

Received for publication August 2, 2011, and accepted December 1, 2011.

© Copyright 2012 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association