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Even If You Build It, We May Not Come: Correlates of Non-attendance at a Sexual Risk Reduction Workshop for STD Clinic Patients

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Sexual risk reduction interventions have been shown to reduce sexual risk behavior; however, attendance at these interventions is sometimes disappointingly low. To improve recruitment efforts, we investigated whether patient characteristics were associated with non-attendance at a single-session, sexual risk reduction intervention. Patients from an STD clinic (N = 990; 48% female; 64% African American) who were eligible and who agreed to participate in a randomized, clinical trial were invited to a 4-h, sexual risk reduction workshop. Fifty-six percent of those who were invited attended the workshop. Those who did not attend were more likely to be younger, male, Caucasian, and employed. Attendance did not differ as a function of sexual behavior or infection status. These findings identify the population sub-groups who are likely to require special effort to attract to a workshop. We encourage more effective marketing and recruitment approaches for sexual risk reduction programs.

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  1. Much of the evidence for poor attendance has been anecdotal because investigators have not reported the percentage of participants who attend. In addition, some investigators randomize participants to intervention conditions only after they arrive for a workshop. These reporting and methodological factors have obscured attendance rates. Fortunately, with the CONSORT reporting requirements [Moher, Schulz, & Altman, 2001], we will have better data regarding true attendance rates in the future.

  2. Fifty-five participants who were invited to the workshop without promise of a monetary incentive were considered pilot participants, and were not included in these analyses.

  3. Participants who arrived ≥30 min late were not allowed to attend the workshop that week; in this event, they were invited to the next scheduled workshop. If they failed to attend the original workshop and the make-up workshop, they were classified as non-attendees.

  4. Results were unchanged when we used a behavioral definition of sexual orientation, that is, those who reported having intercourse with someone of the same gender in the past 3 months were defined as homosexual or bisexual.

  5. Because the sexual behavioral data were skewed, supplementary analyses using non-parametric tests were conducted. Results were largely consistent with results from the ANOVAs, with one exception; in the nonparametric analyses, non-attendees reported a greater number of lifetime partners than did attendees, χ2(1, N = 989) = 5.88, P < .05. Additionally, we conducted analyses on several dichotomous indicators of sexual risk, including: (a) whether or not a condom was used at last intercourse; (b) whether or not participants engaged in any unprotected intercourse with their steady partner over the past 3 months; (c) whether or not participants engaged in any unprotected intercourse with their non-steady partner(s) over the past 3 months; and (d) whether or not participants had more than one sexual partner in the past 3 months. None of these dichotomous indicators of sexual risk were associated with workshop attendance.

  6. Logistic regressions including variables that were marginally significant in the univariate analyses also were conducted (Hosmer & Lemeshow, 2000). Demographic variables were entered into the logistic regression first, followed by sexual behavior variables, and, finally, substance use variables. The sexual behavior and substance use variables did not add significantly to the prediction of workshop attendance.


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We would like to thank everyone who participated in the project, as well as the staff of the Monroe County Health Department clinic, and the HIP-R team. This work was supported by grant # R01-MH54929 from the National Institute of Mental Health.

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Correspondence to Michael P. Carey.

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Senn, T.E., Carey, M.P., Vanable, P.A. et al. Even If You Build It, We May Not Come: Correlates of Non-attendance at a Sexual Risk Reduction Workshop for STD Clinic Patients. AIDS Behav 11, 864–871 (2007).

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