An Argument for Practice-Based Public Health Research on Sexually Transmitted Infection Management


Patrick O'Byrne, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Nursing, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Road, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1H 8M5. E-mail:


ABSTRACT Over the last few years, the rates of certain sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have again begun to rise in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Paradoxically, these increases are occurring at the same time that greater numbers of researchers are publishing reports about highly successful safer sex interventions. Research that investigates this phenomenon reveals that the majority of new STIs management initiatives never reach day-to-day practice after the research period has terminated. In reaction to this, it is suggested here that researchers should begin developing their STIs management interventions in practice-based settings, with a strong emphasis being placed on ensuring target group input from the outset. While such an approach may not be able to discern precise cause-and-effect relationships, it has the benefit of enhancing use after researchers have withdrawn their support. The benefits that arise from long-term and widespread use of this approach may therefore outweigh the advantages that can occur from developing highly efficacious, but unused, STIs management strategies.