Sexually Transmitted Infections – an Issue for Family Practitioners?
DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2017.0032-0038german translation / full article
Background: Since the middle of the 1990s, sexually transmitted infections (STI) have been discussed increasingly as a global health problem in Europe (and worldwide). In Germany, significantly increasing STI incidence rates have been observed since several years. The degree of ignorance regarding STI is high in the German population. Much of the STI could be avoided by a systematic prevention. This article focuses on relevance of STI counseling and testing in family practices and the assessment of family practitioners (FP) own STI advisory skills.
Methods: Our survey was carried out with FPs at the annual congress of the SGAM in June 2016. The four-page questionnaire focused on the self-assessment of STI counseling expertise, STI counseling behavior and STI testing behavior. Descriptive data analysis was done using SPSS 23.0.
Results: 47 (of which 62 % were women) of 63 FPs participated in the survey and were included in the analysis. Nearly all respondents (98 %) confirmed preventive counseling regarding sexual behavior/STI, whereas 43 % felt being insufficiently trained to counsel patients about STI. 36 % stated that they refer more than half of their patients with STI diagnosis or STI suspicion to medical specialists/public health services. 74 % of FPs made at least one HIV test, 64 % ? one chlamydia test, 30 % ? one gonorrhea test and 11 % ? one syphilis test in the last 12 months.
Conclusions: There is a visible need for further education/advanced training for the participating FPs regarding the topics of sexual behavior/STI, which should focus on knowledge but also on communicative counseling skills and the patient- and physician-sided taboo and stigma. Due to rising STI incidences, it is important that FPs offer risk-group-specific counseling, testing and treatment to detect and treat STI early and thereby also to avoid new infections.