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In their study, Apoola et al found that patient referral was the most favoured method of partner notification in a large sample of GUM clinics
Their observations are in line with our findings in a recent (2006) survey in an age- and gender stratified sample of the general population in Flanders, Belgium.
Three hundred patients were questioned regarding acceptability of partn...
Three hundred patients were questioned regarding acceptability of partner notification strategies in the hypothetical case that they would be diagnosed with an STI.
The large majority of respondents preferred partner
notification (95.8 %). A small minority of respondents indicated that provider referral was acceptable; the provider could be a GP (12.6 %) or another health worker (6.6 %). This pattern was independent of gender,
age, level of education, sexual orientation, number of sexual partners, a history of STIs, and a history of being tested for STIs. In multivariate analysis, older age was slightly associated with the likelihood of accepting provider referral strategies.
Only two respondents stated that they would not inform their partner(s) in case they were diagnosed with an STI.
It remains to be seen to what extent these patients’ preferences in both studies reflect a true believe that being informed directly by a partner is the most optimal strategy for notifying people of a potential STI risk.
It is also conceivable that, by choosing for this strategy, patients try to stay in control over which information on possible STI transmission is disclosed to whom of their regular or occasional sex partners.
A meta-analysis of notification strategies found that patient referral is less effective than provider referral with respect to the number of partners notified and presenting for medical evaluation (2). The reluctance of patients to notify their partners may suggest that they
expect harms from doing so. Potential harms of partner notification, such as the rate of domestic violence, abuse or breaking up of relationships, are poorly understood and need further attention.
1. Apoola A, Radcliffe KW, Das S, Robshaw V, Gilleran G, Kumari BS, Boothby M, Rajakumar R. Patient preferences for partner notification. Sex Transm Infect. 2006;82:327-9.
2. Mathews C, Coetzee N, Zwarenstein M, Lombard C, Guttmacher S, Oxman A, Schmid G. Strategies for partner notification for sexually transmitted diseases. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2001;4:CD002843.