Conceptualising quality of life outcomes for women participating in testing for sexually transmitted infections: a systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-70
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Early online date1 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


  • Health economics, sexual health, meta-ethnography