Background In Australia, General Practitioners (GPs) are the gatekeepers to the health care system and about 85% of the population attends a GP in any one year. This study aimed to determine how frequently six common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) were managed by GPs and the characteristics of the GPs and patients at these encounters.
Methods Data from the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) programme were analysed. BEACH is a continuous, paper-based, national study of GP activity in Australia. GP-patient encounters during which at least one STI was managed were identified. The management rates per 100,000 encounters were calculated for April 2000 to March 2012.
Results Between April 2000 and March 2012, 11,784 GPs took part in the BEACH study, collectively recording 1,178,400 encounters with patients. There were 3,835 STIs encounters recorded, managed at an overall rate of 325 STIs per 100,000 encounters, (compared, for example, to 1,691 non-venereal lower urinary tract infections per 100,000 encounters), comprising 115 herpes problems per 100,000 encounters, 92 genital warts, 67 HIV, 39 chlamydia, 6 gonorrhoea and 7 syphilis. Higher management rates occurred among patients who were: male; 15–24 years old; more socially advantaged; Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander; resident in a major city; and/or of English-speaking background. GPs who were female or aged less than 60 years had higher STI management rates than their counterparts.
Conclusion This study estimates the management frequency of six common STIs in Australian general practise and the associated patient and GP characteristics. Moving forward, sexual health care in Australia is expected to rely heavily on the continued participation of general practise, with sexual health clinics focusing on priority, high-risk populations. This study provides a basis for priorities in GP workforce development, population-based health promotion, access, and health services planning strategies.
- General Practice
- Retrospective analysis
- STI management
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