Background: In randomized controlled trials of expedited partner therapy (EPT), among patients in the EPT arm, the proportion of partners believed to have taken the medication ranged from 56% to 85%. Little is known about the content of successful and unsuccessful EPT negotiations between patients and their partners. The aim of this study was to describe how patients made decisions about EPT and what they did with the EPT medication packs dispensed to them.
Methods: We performed a qualitative study at the Baltimore City Health Department sexually transmitted disease clinics, which instituted an EPT pilot program in 2007. In-depth interviews were conducted with 31 patients, 1 week to 3 months after they had accepted EPT to bring to their partners. Taped interviews were transcribed verbatim and coded using ATLAS.ti 6 qualitative software. Codes were further combined into more comprehensive themes that were mapped onto the study's main aim.
Results: Participants were innovative about how to get medication to their partners and indicated a deep sense of concern and responsibility for their partners' health. On the other hand, participants reported of being anxious about the interaction and sometimes felt that they lacked the words to talk with their partners about EPT. Some participants used EPT in unexpected ways, such as giving it to people other than their sex partners or taking it themselves.
Conclusions: Enhancing the counseling that accompanies EPT may improve patients' success in delivering it to their partners.