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Practice nurse chlamydia testing in Australian general practice: a qualitative study of benefits, barriers and facilitators

  • Lorch, Rebecca1
  • Hocking, Jane2
  • Guy, Rebecca1
  • Vaisey, Alaina2
  • Wood, Anna2
  • Lewis, Dyani2
  • Temple-Smith, Meredith3
  • 1 University of New South Wales, The Kirby Institute, Sydney, NSW, Australia , Sydney (Australia)
  • 2 University of Melbourne, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, Melbourne, VIC, Australia , Melbourne (Australia)
  • 3 University of Melbourne, Department of General Practice, Melbourne, VIC, Australia , Melbourne (Australia)
Published Article
BMC Family Practice
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Mar 14, 2015
DOI: 10.1186/s12875-015-0251-8
Springer Nature


BackgroundChlamydia infection is a significant public health issue for young people; however, testing rates in Australian general practice are low. Practice nurses (PNs) could have an important role in contributing to increasing chlamydia testing rates. The Australian Chlamydia Control Effectiveness Pilot (ACCEPt), a large cluster randomised control trial of annual testing for 16 to 29 year olds in general practice, is the first to investigate the role of PNs in maximising testing rates. In order to assess the scope for PN involvement, we aimed to explore PN’s views in relation to involvement in chlamydia testing in general practice.MethodsSemi structured interviews were conducted between June 2011 and April 2012 with a purposive sample of 23 PNs participating in ACCEPt. Interview data was thematically analysed using a conventional content analysis approach.ResultsThe participants in our study supported an increased role for PNs in chlamydia testing and identified a number of patient benefits from this involvement, such as an improved service with greater access to testing and patients feeling more comfortable engaging with a nurse rather than a doctor. An alleviation of doctors’ workloads and expansion of the nurse’s role were also identified as benefits at a clinic level. Time and workload constraints were commonly considered barriers to chlamydia testing, along with concerns around privacy in the “small town” rural settings of the general practices. Some felt negative GP attitudes as well as issues with funding for PNs’ work could also be barriers. The provision of training and education, streamlining chlamydia testing pathways in clinics and changes to pathology ordering processes would facilitate nurse involvement in chlamydia testing.ConclusionThis study suggests that PNs could take a role in increasing chlamydia testing in general practice and that their involvement may result in possible benefits for patients, doctors, PNs and the community. Strategies to overcome identified barriers and facilitate their involvement must be further explored.

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