Introduction: Despite its wide use, passive partner notification (PN) has a low yield of sexual partners influenced by patient-related and health system (HS) factors.
Methods: We conducted a qualitative study and clinic observations during a pre-intervention phase of a quality improvement (QI) project to identify HS factors that influenced passive PN at Bwaila STI unit (BSU) in Lilongwe Malawi from January to February 2016. We conducted 15 in-depth interviews with health workers and clinic observations for six clinic flow and PN processes at the clinic.
Results: The majority of health workers felt that the lack of incentives for sexual partners or couples who presented to the clinic was the most important negative HS factor that influenced passive PN. We observed an average clinic start time of 09:02 hours. The average duration of the group health talk was 56 minutes and there was no difference in the time spent at the clinic between index cases and partners (1 hour 41 minutes versus 1 hour 36 minutes respectively).
Discussion: Lack of incentives for sexual partners or couples was the most important HS factors that impacted the yield of sexual partners. Interventions focusing on designing simple non-monetary incentives and QI of passive PN should be encouraged.
Keywords: HIV; Health system; Partner notification; Sexual partner.