Today I hosted a journal club discussion for my Sexual Health and Reproduction group colleagues. As I’m about to embark upon my literature review, I decided to pick a paper which was relevant to my research area (young people and contraception). A quick browse through recent publications… and I came across this paper:
Karina Kinsella, Ruth Cross and Jane South (2014) An evaluation of the condom distribution scheme (C-Card) with young people in northeast England. Perspectives in Public Health 2014 134: 25.
The questions I posed of my colleagues were similar to those i used for Public Health Twitter Journal Club, namely; is there a clear aim? Are the methods appropriate? Do you believe the results? Do the results warrant a change in policy or practice ? Below is a summary of the points which were raised.
A C-Card scheme is a free, confidential service which provides free condoms, advice and information to young people. The scheme aims to make condoms more accessible to young people and to provide them with support and information about sexual health and how to use condoms correctly. Typically, users are required to register with the service and undertake a short learning intervention (e.g. demonstration of how to use a condom, discuss STIs and contraception options) – thereafter the user is able to use the C-Card to obtain free condoms, from a range of local outlets.
Since 2010, C-Card schemes have been available to ‘young people’ (ranges of included ages vary) across the UK. However there is no national guidance regarding C-Card scheme implementation or evaluation, and to date no studies have compared scheme variations. A quick search on Embase and Medline suggests that Kinsella et al (2014) is the first published evaluation on C-Card schemes.
Overall, I felt that the paper was quite a disappointing read. Possibly the evaluation of the scheme had not been integrated into the initial set-up and planning (which is frequently the case in public health service work). And in-spite of the low number of participants, the reporting of the details of the study is somewhat sloppy, which (for me) makes it difficult to be confident in the authors conclusions…
I’m feeling quite negative about this paper, but am I being fair? Afterall, this paper is an evaluation of a sexual health promotion initiative in a service environment – is it fair to use the standards one would expect from a robust academic research paper to appraise? Here are some points which were raised and reflections following the journal club:
Thank you to Professor Judith Stephenson and Dr Hannat Akintomide for contributing to the Journal Club discussions.