United States guidelines recommend retesting for chlamydia (CT) and gonorrhea (GC) approximately 3 months after treatment, but adherence to these guidelines is poor.
In May 2016, the municipal sexually transmitted disease (STD) Clinic in Seattle, WA, integrated opt-in short message system (SMS) (text message) retesting reminders for female patients into our clinic's routine electronic intake. Women were asked if they wanted to receive an SMS reminder for retesting for GC/CT in 3 months. We used Fisher exact tests to compare the proportion who returned to the clinic for retesting and the proportion who retested GC/CT positive 3 to 6 months after their initial diagnosis. We used sexually transmitted disease surveillance data to ascertain repeat GC/CT diagnoses.
From May 2016 to December 2017, 743 (36%) of 2067 women opted to receive an SMS reminder. Overall, 95 of these women tested positive for GC or CT and provided a valid phone number; 31 (33%) had opted into SMS reminders. The percentage of women who returned to the clinic 3 to 6 months after their initial GC/CT diagnosis did not significantly differ for women who did and did not opt in to receive SMS reminders (23% vs 9%; P = 0.11). Repeat GC/CT diagnosis 3 to 6 months after the initial GC/CT diagnosis was not significantly different between women who did and did not opt in (7% vs 3%; P = 0.58).
Uptake of automated SMS reminders among women was low, and most women who received reminders did not return for retesting. Despite this, SMS reminders integrated into an existing clinic infrastructure may somewhat increase retesting among women with GC/CT.