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Partner Notification of Sexually Transmitted Diseases: Practices and Preferences

Gursahaney, Priya R. MD, MS*; Jeong, Kwonho BA; Dixon, Bruce W. MD; Wiesenfeld, Harold C. MD, CM*‡

doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0b013e31821c390b
Original Study

Background: Timely notification and treatment of sex partners exposed to a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is essential to reduce reinfection and transmission. Our objectives were to determine factors associated with patient-initiated notification of sex partners and preferences regarding standard partner referral versus expedited partner therapy (EPT).

Methods: Participants diagnosed with gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, or nongonococcal urethritis within the previous year were administered a baseline survey asking about demographics, sexual history, and partner treatment preferences (standard partner referral vs. EPT). They identified up to 4 sex partners within the past 2 months, and answered questions on relationship characteristics, quality, and notification self-efficacy. At follow-up, participants with a current STD were asked whether they notified their partners. Generalized estimating equations were used to evaluate the associations between predictor variables and partner notification.

Results: Of the 201 subjects enrolled, 157 had a current STD diagnosis, and 289 sex partners were identified. The rate of successful partner notification was 77.3% (157/203 sex partners). Partner notification was increased if the subject had a long-term relationship with a sex partner (odds ratio: 3.07; 95% confidence interval: 1.43, 6.58), considered the partner to be a main partner (odds ratio: 2.53; 95% confidence interval: 1.43, 6.58), or had increased notification self-efficacy. Overall, participants did not prefer EPT over standard referral; however, females, those with higher education levels, and those with a prior STD preferred EPT.

Conclusions: Patient-initiated partner referral is more successful in patients with increased self-efficacy who have stronger interpersonal relationships with their sex partners.

Patient-initiated partner referral is more successful among patients with increased self-efficacy and stronger interpersonal relationships with their sex partners.

From the *Magee-Womens Research Institute, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA; †Department of Biostatistics, University of Pittsburgh and Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Pittsburgh, PA; and ‡Allegheny County Health Department, Pittsburgh, PA

The authors thank Dr. J. Dennis Fortenberry for his invaluable support and assistance with survey design, as well as Dr. Douglas Landsittel at the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Pittsburgh (NIH/NCRR/CTSA grant UL1 RR024153) for his assistance with data analysis.

Supported by funding from the Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellowship.

Correspondence: Harold C. Wiesenfeld, MD, CM, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Magee-Womens Hospital, 300 Halket St, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. E-mail:

Received for publication October 16, 2010, and accepted March 1, 2011.

© Copyright 2011 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association