Informing a partner that you have a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is a sensitive and arduous task. The traditional method has been to simply tell your partner that they need to seek treatment. This approach is difficult as the stigma associated with STDs often preclude frank notification.
A new study, found in the online British Medical Journal (bmj.com), analyzes three innovative communication methods to improve compliance and ease the burden.
Study authors performed a systematic review of 14 studies involving 12,389 women and men diagnosed with a common sexually transmitted infection, including chlamydia, gonorrhoea, and non-specific urethritis.
The review encourages physicians to inform individuals with the sexually transmitted disease on various strategies to deliver the news to a partner. In some cases, this may include providing a home testing kits or drugs to help reduce infection rates.
The strategies that made it easier for patients to share responsibility for the care of their sexual partners included: patient delivered partner therapy (where a patient is given drugs or a prescription for their partners), home sampling for partners, and providing additional information for partners.
All three strategies were more effective than simple patient referral (where a patient is simply encouraged to tell their partners to seek treatment).
However, the team found that simple patient referral, with extra information about the infection and its treatment that the patient can give to their partners, seemed to be as effective as patient delivered partner therapy.
Involving patients with sexually transmitted disease in shared responsibility for the care of their sexual partners improves outcomes, say the authors. Health professionals should consider these three strategies for the management of individual patients.
The paper may be viewed at this address: http://press.psprings.co.uk/bmj/january/partners.pdf
Source: British Medical Journal