Frequency and thoroughness of STD/HIV risk assessment by physicians in a high-risk metropolitan area

Am J Public Health. 1991 Dec;81(12):1645-8. doi: 10.2105/ajph.81.12.1645.


The US Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all primary care physicians assess the sexually transmitted disease/human immunodeficiency virus (STD/HIV) risk of all adolescent and adult patients. To determine whether factors amenable to change through continuing medical education are associated with frequent and thorough STD/HIV risk assessment, a telephone survey of primary care physicians in the Washington, DC metropolitan area was conducted (n = 961). Thirty-seven percent of physicians reported regularly asking new adult patients about their sexual practices; 60% asked new adolescent patients. STD/HIV risk questioning was associated with physicians' confidence in their ability to help prevent HIV, comfort with discussing patients' sexual practices, and perception of a large STD/HIV problem in their practice. These findings suggest that continuing medical education should target improvement in physicians' sexual practice questioning skills.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Counseling / standards
  • District of Columbia / epidemiology
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / standards
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV-1*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking / standards*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Physicians, Family / standards*
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires