OBJECTIVES: To describe the immediate reported management, by general practitioners (GPs), of men presenting with symptoms of urethral discharge, or dysuria only. SUBJECTS: All 692 GPs in practice in Brent, Harrow, Ealing, Hammersmith, and Hounslow (UK). METHOD: Data were collected using a GP completed questionnaire concerning the management of the last male patient seen, aged less than 40 years, complaining of urethral discharge, and the last male patient under 40 years complaining of dysuria only. RESULTS: The response rate among GPs was 52%. Fifty three per cent of men with urethral symptoms, 86% of men with a urethral discharge and 24% with dysuria only, were identified by GPs and referred without investigation or treatment to a genitourinary medicine clinic. Of men with dysuria only, 93% of investigations by GPs were reported to include a mid-stream urine (MSU) specimen for bacteriology, and 19% a urethral swab for chlamydia. Seventy eight per cent of GPs reported using treatments with a broad spectrum antibiotic, 53% with trimethoprim, whilst 14% of GPs reported using a tetracycline in common use to treat non-gonococcal urethritis. Urine specimens were reported to be "culture positive" in 41% of men who had an MSU specimen tested, and 15% of men who had a urethral swab tested were reported to be chlamydia positive. CONCLUSION: The GPs included in this study were not a full sample, or representative of all the GPs, and the data are retrospective. Nevertheless, we found a large difference in GPs reported management for men with urethral symptoms according to whether or not urethral discharge was a reported complaint. Reported management is likely to be, at least, indicative of actual management. Therefore, the results suggest that assessment by GPs of men presenting with dysuria should be explored and more appropriate management strategies defined.
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