Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Public Health and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Setting up a surveillance system for sexually transmitted diseases in the general population with prospective data collection from private-practice and public-practice doctors in Hong Kong

Joseph TF Lau12*, Chunqing Lin1, King Man Ho3, Man Chun Lau1, Hi Yi Tsui1, Jing Gu4 and Kuen Kong Lo3

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Health Behaviours Research, School of Public Health and Primary Care, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China

2 Centre for Medical Anthropology and Behavioral Health, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China

3 Social Hygiene Service Headquarter, the Public Health Service Branch, Center for Health Protection, Department of Health, Hong Kong SAR, China

4 Department of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2011, 11:254  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-254

Published: 21 April 2011

Abstract

Background

Existing surveillance systems for sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and reproductive tract infections (RTI) are important but often ineffective, as they tend to omit cases diagnosed by private-practice doctors

Methods

During a 15-day study period, 277 private-practice doctors and all public-practice doctors of all the eight local Social Hygiene Clinics (SHC) in Hong Kong filled out daily a standard log-form, recording the number of patients diagnosed with particular types of STD/RTI. Projections for all local private-practice and public-practice doctors were made by the stratification method.

Results

Data showed that 0.75% of private patients and 40.92% of public patients presented the listed STD/RTI syndromes. It is projected that 12,504 adults were diagnosed with such syndromes by all local private-practice (10,204) or public-practice doctors (2,300); 0.22% (male: 0.26%; female: 0.18%) of the local adult population would fall into this category. The ratio of STD/RTI cases, diagnosed by private-practice versus public-practice doctors, was 4:1. Of the participating private-practice doctors, 96% found the process easy to administer and 75% believed that it was feasible for such a STD/RTI surveillance system to be implemented annually.

Conclusions

Surveillance of STD/RTI based only on data obtained from the public health system is inadequate. Data obtained from public-practice and private-practice doctors are very different and the majority of the patients presented their STD/RTI syndromes to private-practice doctors. The proposed, improved surveillance system is feasible and has the strengths of involving both private-practice and public-practice medical practitioners and being well accepted by private-practice doctors.