Objective: To investigate the attitude of consultant gynaecologists and general practitioners to various aspects of hormone replacement therapy and to compare the findings in these two groups.
Design: Anonymous postal survey of 589 general practitioners and 998 consultant gynaecologists; 373 (63%) and 655 (66%) valid replies, respectively, were received.
Main outcome measures: Views on universal treatment of eligible women, indications for hormone replacement therapy, prescribing practice, pretreatment investigation, monitoring, and contraindications to treatment.
Results: More consultants (64%) than general practitioners (56%) thought hormone replacement therapy should be offered to all eligible women, with a significant trend against treatment amongst more senior consultants. Most practitioners were prepared to offer treatment before the cessation of menstruation, but only 27% of consultants and 11% of general practitioners recommended indefinite treatment. Most limited treatment to less than 10 years. Menopausal symptoms, premature natural and surgical menopause, and a family history of osteoporosis were regarded as indications for treatment, but less than half felt established osteoporosis an indication. Hormone replacement therapy was judged to reduce the risk of ischaemic heart disease and osteoporosis by both groups but there was less consensus on the prevention of cerebrovascular accident. In general, consultants had more faith in hormone replacement therapy as prophylaxis. One-quarter of consultants said that hormone replacement therapy should be initiated by consultants. Only 4% of general practitioners shared this view. About 30% of both groups required mammography, but less than 10% required sophisticated tests. A range of common cardiovascular conditions were regarded as contraindications, although general practitioners were more likely to regard thrombosis and cerebrovascular accident as contraindications. Breast cancer and a family history of breast cancer were regarded with suspicion by both groups.
Conclusions: Practitioners were positively inclined to hormone replacement therapy, but many were unconvinced of its chronic use and use in those with cardiovascular conditions. There were differences in views as to who should initiate therapy.