Young women's misperceptions about sexually transmissible infection testing: A 'clean and clear' misunderstanding

Sara K. Head, Richard A. Crosby, Lydia A. Shrier, Gregory R. Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: This exploratory study investigated young women's perceptions of sexually transmissible infection (STI) testing received during gynaecological care. Correlates of the incorrect perception that STI testing occurred were assessed. Methods: Cross-sectional study of sexually active young women, age 18-24 years, attending a university healthcare setting for gynaecological care (n = 109). Two hundred and four women were approached and 87 were ineligible; of the remaining 117, 93.2% chose to enrol. Results: Of the women enrolled, 25.7% falsely perceived that they were STI tested (labelled 'clean and clear'). Only approximately one in seven (14.7%) accurately understood the STI for which they were tested. In multivariate analyses, controlling for race, STI symptoms, depression, number of lifetime visits to the gynaecologist, and suspicion of current STI, three variables were significant: minority race (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 4.84, confidence interval (CI) = 1.38-16.96, P = 0.01), earlier age at sexual debut (AOR = 4.67, CI = 1.73-12.57, P = 0.002), and previous STI diagnosis (AOR = 3.38, CI = 1.07-10.66, P = 0.04). Comment: The findings suggest that many young women may have an inaccurate understanding of the STI testing they undergo during gynaecological care and may operate under the misperception they are 'clean and clear' of STI. Women with said misperception were more likely to be of minority race and report relatively earlier age of sexual debut and previous STI diagnosis. Further investigation is warranted to determine whether the 'clean and clear' misperception influences young women's sexual risk behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-275
Number of pages3
JournalSexual Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2007


  • Communication
  • Gynaecology
  • Patient eduction
  • Screening
  • Sexual behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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