Introduction Effective partner treatment (PT) is essential to interrupt transmission, prevent re-infections, and may reduce the prevalence of chlamydia. Dutch guidelines allow direct PT of current and most recent ex-partners of a chlamydia patient when they present for testing, but no prescriptions without contact with the partner. As part of a project concerning the potential of Patient Initiated PT (PIPT) for chlamydia (PICC-UP; Patient Initiated Contact treatment for Chlamydia), we investigated attitudes towards PIPT among health staff at sexual health centres (SHC).
Methods An online anonymous questionnaire was sent to all 73 physicians and 248 nurses employed at 25 Dutch SHCs. The questionnaire was based on focus groups conducted with health staff, and included Likert-scale questions on opinions and attitudes towards PIPT. Descriptive analyses were performed.
Results The overall response rate was 36%. In general, health staff was critical towards PIPT without counselling. 97% of respondents agreed that current steady partners should get treatment immediately, and 43% thought so for casual partners. However, a smaller proportion would give medication via the index patient: 51% for a steady and 8% for a casual partner. Respondents were more likely to apply PIPT if there was a high chance of infection but a small chance the partner would present for testing. Furthermore, checking allergies and contra-indications before antibiotic prescription was considered essential by 97%. Most (60%) preferred acquiring this information via direct contact with the partner; 30% favoured telephone or internet. Hardly any differences were seen between answers of physicians or nurses.
Conclusion Physicians and nurses from SHCs find PT for chlamydia important, but their attitude towards PIPT is reluctant. They would consider PIPT for current steady partners or for partners who may not present for testing, preferably after some form of contact with the partner. For further development of PIPT strategies, involvement of the implementing health professionals is essential.
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