NIH Grant to Fund IU Researcher's Novel Aproach to Reducing Chlamydia Rates in Women
The National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded Barbara Van Der Pol, associate professor in the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, a $423,381 grant from to explore a novel approach to reducing chlamydia rates in women by making it easier for men to be tested. She will use market research techniques to explore how men would prefer being tested, using a community-based approach designed to reach men who are not accustomed to using a clinic.
Often men and women who have chlamydia are not aware they have been infected, making the sexually transmitted disease difficult to detect and easy to spread. The consequences are of particular concern to women because of the link to infertility, so most public health efforts at reducing chlamydia rates have focused on women. However Van Der Pol stated a new approach is needed because during the last 30 years, very little progress has been made, even though chlamydia affects 3 million people each year. She added that it is clear that men are the “missing link.” Van Der Pol will work with Brian Dodge, associate professor in the Department of Applied Health Science and associate director of the School of Public Health's Center for Sexual Health Promotion. The study is designed to address chlamydia concerns; however, the results will be applicable to all sexually transmitted infections (STI), which will make the findings of broader interest.
Many men in previous research studies reported feelings of stigma associated with being tested in clinics. Most were enthusiastic about having options to participate in testing in a wide range of non-clinical situations. The survey will ask about a number of testing options, some of which can be done without the men even seeing a clinician. For example, test samples can be placed in a drop box or mailed. Study participants can select from a variety of ways to schedule tests or obtain results, such as text messages, e-mail, traditional mail, or by telephone calls. The researchers want to reach 250 men with this first phase. “We don't ask the consumers what they want,” Van Der Pol said. “We have these clever schemes, but with health care dollars so limited, we're not going to be successful unless we ask people what they want.” She said this marketing research approach to health care is relatively new, even though it has been used for commercial purposes for decades.
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