Background: This study sought to compare and contrast attitudes and behaviours of family physicians and patients regarding genital herpes and its management.
Methods: Family physicians and infected individuals were surveyed on-line to explore disease importance/seriousness, emotional impact, transmission and treatment. The study received ethics approval.
Results: 400 patients and 200 physicians participated. Physicians estimated the emotional impact of genital herpes to be higher than patients. Patient distress increased with recurrences and recency of diagnosis. Physicians and patients underestimated the risk of transmission during periods of asymptomatic viral shedding, 45% and 51% respectively. Physicians reported that 74% of their patients were taking medication while only 29% of patients reported use of anti-virals. Physicians reported discussing suppressive therapy with 59% of patients while only 25% of patients recalled such a discussion. Only 40% of patients were aware that daily anti-viral therapy was available to reduce the risk of transmission. The most compelling reason for high interest in suppressive therapy was to reduce the frequency or severity of outbreaks (62%).
Conclusions: While physician and patient attitudes and behaviours coincide in a number of areas there are many areas of misalignment. This presents opportunities for education and improvement for the management of genital herpes.
- anti-viral medications
- genital herpes