General practitioners role in the notification of communicable diseases - study in Malta

Euro Surveill. 2007 Nov 1;12(11):E5-6. doi: 10.2807/esm.12.11.00745-en.


General practitioners (GPs) have an essential role in notification of communicable diseases. The main aim of the study described here was to assess the GPs' awareness of and attitudes towards the notification system in Malta, with special focus on infectious intestinal disease (IID). A questionnaire collecting demographic data, information on reporting practices, opinions on the existing notification system and suggestions for improvement was sent to 256 GPs working in either private or public health sector. In all, 150 GPs took part in the survey (response rate 58.6%). The responses revealed that Maltese GPs were aware of their obligations to notify communicable diseases but often did not report them, relying on the hospitals or laboratories to do so. The Disease Surveillance Unit (DSU) website and medical school training were the main sources of information on notification. Notification forms were obtained from health centres and usually kept at the place of work. Most GPs reported filling in the forms during the patients' visits. Private GPs tended to notify earlier than GPs working in public health centers. Among IID, food-borne illness was reported more frequently than person-to-person transmitted gastroenteritis and was considered to be of a higher priority with regard to public health importance (p<0.001). The survey highlighted also some areas for improvement, including need of feedback especially by direct communication or a newsletter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Disease Notification / statistics & numerical data*
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Malta / epidemiology
  • Mandatory Reporting*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*