252783 Chlamydia knowledge and screening attitudes among university students

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Wiley D. Jenkins, PhD, MPH , Family and Community Medicine, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL
Kristine Dzara, PhD , Department of Psychiatry, SIU School of Medicine, Springfield, IL
Lisabeth DiLalla, PhD , Family and Community Medicine, SIU School of Medicine, Carbondale, IL
Background – Chlamydia (CT) is the most reported infectious disease in the US, with adolescents/young adults at greatest risk. Educational interventions frequently target university students, but associations between CT knowledge and screening likelihood are complex.

Objective – To determine student knowledge of CT extent and etiology, and attitudes towards screening.

Methods – University students were surveyed in 2011 concerning their CT knowledge and personal screening influences.

Results – Of 289 valid surveys, 45.3% were female, 51.2% were white, mean age was 19.4 years. From 9 CT knowledge questions, mean correct score was 4 (no gender or race differences); 89.2% indicated CT may be acquired from an asymptomatic person, but only 8.3% knew the chance of infection from unprotected sex (INFECT) is ~33% (37.8% indicated 95% chance). Reasons for avoiding screening included not being sexually active (28.7%), practicing safe sex (52.6%), and having no infected friends (44.8%; no gender differences). Females were more likely to report avoiding screening because they didn't have sex with strangers (78.5% vs. 61.5%; p=0.002). Among sexually active students, condom use frequency (CONDOM) was related to stating safe sex practice (p<0.011 each gender), but <39% report ‘always' using condoms. No associations existed between CONDOM and previous CT infection or INFECT (no gender differences). Among females, CONDOM significantly decreased with previous CT testing (p=0.020).

Conclusions – Erroneous safety beliefs and the lack of association between heightened perceived risk (chance of infection, past infection) and increased condom use suggest that effective educational interventions may require a behavioral modification component.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. To describe student CT knowledge gaps, to include overestimations of infectivity and underestimations of incidence. 2. To describe erroneous safety beliefs and other reasons for screening avoidance. 3. To discuss how these factors may influence an intervention, and how that intervention will likely require a behavioral modification component.

Keywords: STD, Sexual Risk Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 13 years PH experience, 4 years academic experience, and a MPH and PhD in public health/epidemiology.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.