Co-creation to increase young people’s STI screening

Client: NHS

The challenge:

One in ten of 15 to 24 year olds in the UK are infected with Chlamydia. NHS Birmingham East and North had tried different approaches to increase chlamydia awareness and rates of testing amongst local young people. Many of these programmes had involved monetary incentive schemes and awareness campaigns, implemented through a top down approach. Typically, success rates had been limited and uptake of chlamydia screening remained low.

What was needed:

NHS Birmingham East and North needed specialist assistance to gather insights about why previous approaches had not been successful, and to design services that would meet the needs of young people. Crucially, they needed an approach that worked in collaboration with, rather than on behalf of, young people, to put their voices and their views at the heart of programme design.

What we did:

Uscreates took an innovative approach to tackling the complex social and cultural issues surrounding the topic of chlamydia. We collaborated with 30 young ambassadors during the scoping, development, and trial phase of the programme. Our research involved a national literature review and insight workshops with 68 young people aged between 15 and 24. This enabled us to create a behavioural journey map highlighting the knowledge, behavioural and attitudinal barriers to having a Chlamydia test (e.g. embarrassment and lack of knowledge about how to access a test). We then reconvened our youth ambassadors at a co-design workshop, developing interventions that would utilise the triggers and mitigate the barriers to Chlamydia testing. Crucially we then asked the young people to help us co-produce they ideas they had co-designed. Interventions included:    

  • ‘Check You Out’ Facebook hub – built by young ambassadors to give health professionals a platform to communicate with local young people who join the page.
  • ‘Screening for a Screening’ cinema night – hosted by young ambassadors. The Facebook voted feature film was preceded by a ‘Quick Facts Chlamydia Film’ designed by the young people, whilst young people were offered a ‘pee in a pot’ Chlamydia test on site in return for a £5 popcorn and soft drink voucher.
  • Chlamydia film competition – five films made by young people about their experiences of Chlamydia testing were screened at the cinema event, with the audience voting for the 2 winning films to be produced by a professional film crew in London.
  • 4,000 self-test kits – delivered to homes in key areas, with peer-to-peer postcards featuring photos of the ambassadors to increase completion rates.
  • An outdoor advertising campaign – featuring the ambassadors in the photo-shoot and broadcasting the message far and wide.

The result:

The campaign helped to normalise the process of Chlamydia testing amongst peer groups, receiving 600+ Facebook likes in the first six weeks of the campaign and achieving 100% testing rates at the cinema event – at a cost of just £3.50 per test (considerably more cost effective than other incentivised interventions).