Conceptualising quality of life outcomes for women participating in testing for sexually transmitted infections: A systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative research
- Uses meta-ethnography to synthesise research on women’s experiences of STI testing.
- Shows the importance of beliefs about STIs, emotional responses and relationships.
- Demonstrates why evaluations should consider both health and non-health impacts.
- Highlights the value of qualitative synthesis for outcome identification.
Many public health interventions have aims which are broader than health alone; this means that there are difficulties in using outcome measures that capture health effects only, such as Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs). Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) are a major public health concern both in the UK and globally, with Chlamydia trachomatis being the most common bacterial STI worldwide. There is scope for the wider use of qualitative syntheses in health-related research; in this study we highlight their potential value in informing outcome identification, particularly for public health interventions where a broad range of outcomes may need to be considered. This article presents a systematic review and meta-ethnography of qualitative studies that investigated women’s experiences of thinking about and participating in testing for chlamydia. The meta-ethnography highlights issues relating to beliefs about STIs and testing, assessing risk and interpreting symptoms, emotional responses to testing, coping with diagnosis, relationship with sex partners(s), informal support, and interaction with health care services. The study findings suggest that women can experience a range of impacts on their health and quality of life. It is important that this range of effects is taken into account within evaluations, to ensure that decision makers are fully informed about the outcomes associated with screening interventions, and ultimately, to make sure that appropriate interventions are available to support women in maintaining good sexual health.
- Sexually transmitted infections;
- Quality of life;
- Public health;
- Health economics