Given the rising rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and outbreaks across Canada, alternative settings to the standard pathway of care are needed to enhance access, especially for vulnerable populations. Community pharmacists are playing a larger role in the delivery of public health services, however, a comprehensive pharmacy-based model of STI treatment and follow-up testing has not been studied.
This study, formally titled, Pharmacist-led treatment and follow-up testing of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) in Alberta, seeks to evaluate a pharmacist-led intervention for STI treatment and follow-up testing in the Canadian province of Alberta. The research team will use a mixed-methods design to assess the uptake, acceptability, and feasibility of the STI pharmacist-led treatment and follow-up testing program.
Regarding connections to care:
- all patients with a positive STI result will be contacted by a partner notification nurse (PNN) to inform them of their result and assist them with options for receiving treatment (usual care);
- during the pilot study, STI treatment through a participating community pharmacy will be included as one of the options;
- patients selecting this option will be referred by the PNN to the pharmacy of the patient’s choice;
- patients will be advised they can receive treatment at the pharmacy by appointment (preferred)or by walk-in;
- In the case of syphilis, a staging letter written by the Medical Director of STI services outlining treatment and follow-up testing requirements will be sent from the PNN to pharmacists.
Initiative objectives and goals
The project intends to evaluate the community pharmacist’s role in the delivery of STI treatments and follow-up testing in the Canadian province Alberta. The study’s objective is to assess:
- the feasibility and acceptability of STI treatment provided by pharmacists through community pharmacies;
- the rates of STI treatment completion and follow-up testing; and
- the acceptability of the intervention from patients’ perspective.
Secondary to these objectives, this study also intends to describe the demographic and other characteristics of patients who seek STI treatment through a community pharmacy and assess providers’ perceptions and workload (pharmacists and partner notification nurses).
The role of this initiative to end the HIV epidemic
Given the rising rates of sexually transmitted infections (STI) and outbreaks across Canada, alternative settings to the standard pathway of care are needed to enhance access, especially for vulnerable populations. Community pharmacies and pharmacists have the potential to play a unique and critical role in access to testing and connections to care.
Meaningful engagement of people with lived experience
The study will recruit 2 to 3 community pharmacies. The research team estimates that approximately 750 individuals will self-select to be treated through a pharmacy. Consultation with individuals with lived experience will inform the model and evaluation.
A REACH-funded initiative
Dr.Christine Hughes, Dr. Petra Smyczek, Jennifer Gratrix and Dr. Cari Egan.
Research assistant: Javiera Navarrete
Partners: Alberta Health Services (Communicable Disease Control), Mint Health and Drug, and REACH Nexus.
Key performance indicators
PNN will provide patients (with confirmed STI) information about all options available to receive treatment, including participating community pharmacies. Local media will be contacted to increase awareness about the initiative
Results are not yet available.