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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The chlamydia knowledge, awareness and testing practices of Australian general practitioners and practice nurses: survey findings from the Australian Chlamydia Control Effectiveness Pilot (ACCEPt)

Rebecca Lorch1*, Jane Hocking2, Meredith Temple-Smith3, Matthew Law1, Anna Yeung2, Anna Wood2, Alaina Vaisey2, Basil Donovan1, Christopher K Fairley24, John Kaldor1 and Rebecca Guy1

Author Affiliations

1 The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia

2 Centre for Women’s Health, Gender and Society, Melbourne School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

3 Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

4 Melbourne Sexual Health Centre, Carlton, Victoria, Australia

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BMC Family Practice 2013, 14:169  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-169

Published: 13 November 2013

Abstract

Background

ACCEPt, a large cluster randomized control trial, aims to determine if annual testing for 16 to 29 year olds in general practice can reduce chlamydia prevalence. ACCEPt is the first trial investigating the potential role of practice nurses (PN) in chlamydia testing. To inform the design of the ACCEPt intervention, we aimed to determine the chlamydia knowledge, attitudes, and testing practices of participating general practitioners (GPs) and PNs.

Methods

GPs and PNs from 143 clinics recruited from 52 areas in 4 Australian states were asked to complete a survey at time of recruitment. Responses of PNs and GPs were compared using conditional logistic regression to account for possible intra cluster correlation within clinics.

Results

Of the PNs and GPs enrolled in ACCEPt, 81% and 72% completed the questionnaire respectively. Less than a third of PNs (23%) and GPs (32%) correctly identified the two age groups with highest infection rates in women and only 16% vs 17% the correct age groups in men. More PNs than GPs would offer testing opportunistically to asymptomatic patients aged ≤25 years; women having a pap smear (84% vs 55%, P<0.01); antenatal checkup (83% vs 44%, P<0.01) and Aboriginal men with a sore throat (79% vs 33%, P<0.01), but also to patients outside of the guideline age group at the time of the survey; 26 year old males presenting for a medical check (78% vs 30%, P = <0.01) and 33 year old females presenting for a pill prescription (83% vs 55%, P<0.01). More PNs than GPs knew that retesting was recommended after chlamydia treatment (93% vs 87%, P=0.027); and the recommended timeframe was 3 months (66% vs 26%, P<0.01). A high proportion of PNs (90%) agreed that they could conduct chlamydia testing in general practice, with 79% wanting greater involvement and 89% further training.

Conclusions

Our survey reveals gaps in chlamydia knowledge and management among GPs and PNs that may be contributing to low testing rates in general practice. The ACCEPt intervention is well targeted to address these and support clinicians in increasing testing rates. PNs could have a role in increasing chlamydia testing.