STD screening, testing, case reporting, and clinical and partner notification practices: a national survey of US physicians

Am J Public Health. 2002 Nov;92(11):1784-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.92.11.1784.


Objectives: This study presents results from a national survey of US physicians that assessed screening, case reporting, partner management, and clinical practices for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV infection.

Methods: Surveys were mailed to a random sample of 7300 physicians to assess screening, testing, reporting, and partner notification for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV.

Results: Fewer than one third of physicians routinely screened men or women (pregnant or nonpregnant) for STDs. Case reporting was lowest for chlamydia (37 percent), intermediate for gonorrhea (44 percent), and higher for syphilis, HIV, and AIDS (53 percent-57 percent). Physicians instructed patients to notify their partners (82 percent-89 percent) or the health department (25 percent-34 percent) rather than doing so themselves.

Conclusions: STD screening levels are well below practice guidelines for women and virtually nonexistent for men. Case reporting levels are below those legally mandated; physicians rely instead on patients for partner notification. Health departments must increase collaboration with private physicians to improve the quality of STD care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chlamydia Infections / diagnosis
  • Chlamydia Infections / prevention & control
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods
  • Communicable Disease Control / standards
  • Communicable Disease Control / statistics & numerical data*
  • Contact Tracing / statistics & numerical data
  • Disease Notification / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Gonorrhea / diagnosis
  • Gonorrhea / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Medicine
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / classification
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Specialization
  • Syphilis / diagnosis
  • Syphilis / prevention & control
  • United States