Family Medicine

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    Sexual history taking: perspectives on doctor-patient interactions during routine consultations in rural primary care in South Africa
    (Elsevier Inc., 2021-05-03) Pretorius, Deidre; Couper, Ian; Mlambo, Motlatso
    Background: Sexual history taking for risk behavior contributes to improving health outcomes in primary care. Giving the high numbers of people living with AIDS, every patient in South Africa should be offered an HIV test, which implies that a comprehensive sexual history must be taken. Aim: To describe the optimal consultation process, as well as associated factors and skills required to improve disclosure of sexual health issues during a clinical encounter with a doctor in primary health care settings in North West province, South Africa. Methods: This qualitative study, based on grounded theory, involved the video-recording of 151 consultations of adult patients living primarily with hypertension and diabetes. This article reports on the 5 consultations where some form of sexual history taking was observed. Patient consultations were analyzed thematically, which entailed open coding, followed by focused and verbatim coding using MaxQDA 2018 software. Confirmability was ensured by 2 generalist doctors, a public health specialist and the study supervisors. Main outcome measure: Sexual history was not taken and patients living with sexual dysfunction were missed. If patients understand how disease and medication contribute to their sexual wellbeing, this may change their perceptions of the illness and adherence patterns. Results: Sexual history was taken in 5 (3%) out of 151 consultations. Three themes emerged from these 5 consultations. In the patient-doctor relationship theme, patients experienced paternalism and a lack of warmth and respect. The consultation context theme included the seating arrangements, ineffective use of time, and privacy challenges due to interruptions and translators. Theme 3, consultation content, dealt with poor coverage of the components of the sexual health history. Conclusion: Overall, sexual dysfunction in patients was totally overlooked and risk for HIV was not explored, which had a negative effect on patients' quality of life and long-term health outcomes. The study provided detailed information on the complexity of sexual history taking during a routine consultation and is relevant to primary health care in a rural setting. Pretorius D, Couper I, Mlambo M. Sexual History Taking: Perspectives on Doctor-Patient Interactions During Routine Consultations in Rural Primary Care in South Africa. Sex Med 2021;9:100389.
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    Sexual history taking: doctors’ clinical decision-making in primary care in the North West province, South Africa
    (AOSIS, 2021-09-29) Pretorius, Deidre; Couper, Ian D; Mlambo, Motlatso G.
    Background: Clinical reasoning is an important aspect of making a diagnosis for providing patient care. Sexual dysfunction can be as a result of cardiovascular or neurological complications of patients with chronic illness, and if a patient does not raise a sexual challenge, then the doctor should know that there is a possibility that one exists and enquire. Aim: The aim of this research study was to assess doctors’ clinical decision-making process with regards to the risk of sexual dysfunction and management of patients with chronic illness in primary care facilities of the North West province based on two hypothetical patient scenarios. Setting: This research study was carried out in 10 primary care facilities in Dr Kenneth Kaunda health district, North West province, a rural health district. Methods: This vignette study using two hypothetical patient scenarios formed part of a broader grounded theory study to determine whether sexual dysfunction as comorbidity formed part of the doctors’ clinical reasoning and decision-making. After coding the answers, quantitative content analysis was performed. The questions and answers were then compared with standard answers of a reference group. Results: One of the doctors (5%) considered sexual dysfunction, but failed to follow through without considering further exploration, investigations or management. For the scenario of a female patient with diabetes, the reference group considered cervical health questions (p = 0.001) and compliance questions (p = 0.004) as standard enquiries, which the doctors from the North West province failed to consider. For the scenario of a male patient with hypertension and an ex-smoker, the reference group differed significantly by expecting screening for mental health and vision (both p = 0.001), as well as for HIV (p < 0.001). The participating doctors did not meet the expectations of the reference group. Conclusion: Good clinical reasoning and decision-making are not only based on knowledge, intuition and experience but also based on an awareness of human well-being as complex and multidimensional, to include sexual well-being.
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    Neglected sexual dysfunction symptoms amongst chronic patients during routine consultations in rural clinics in the North West province
    (AOSIS, 2021-04-28) Pretorius, Deidre; Couper, Ian D; Mlambo, Motlatso G.
    Background: Sexual dysfunction contributes to personal feelings of loss and despair and being a cause of exacerbated interpersonal conflict. Erectile dysfunction is also an early biomarker of cardiovascular disease. As doctors hardly ever ask about this problem, it is unknown how many patients presenting for routine consultations in primary care suffer from symptoms of sexual dysfunction. Aim: To develop an understanding of sexual history taking events, this study aimed to assess the proportion of patients living with symptoms of sexual dysfunction that could have been elicited or addressed during routine chronic illness consultations. Setting: The research was carried out in 10 primary care facilities in Dr Kenneth Kaunda Health District, the North West province, South Africa. This rural area is known for farming and mining activities. Methods: This study contributed to a broader research project with a focus on sexual history taking during a routine consultation. A sample of 151 consultations involving patients with chronic illnesses were selected to observe sexual history taking events. In this study, the patients involved in these consultations completed demographic and sexual dysfunction questionnaires (FSFI and IIEF) to establish the proportions of patients with sexual dysfunction symptoms. Results: A total of 81 women (78%) and 46 men (98%) were sexually active. A total of 91% of the women reported sexual dysfunction symptoms, whilst 98% of men had erectile dysfunction symptoms. The youngest patients to experience sexual dysfunction were a 19-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man. Patients expressed trust in their doctors and 91% of patients did not consider discussion of sexual matters with their doctors as too sensitive. Conclusion: Clinical guidelines, especially for chronic illness care, must include screening for sexual dysfunction as an essential element in the consultation. Clinical care of patients living with chronic disease cannot ignore sexual well-being, given the frequency of problems. A referral to a sexual medicine specialist, psychologist or social worker can address consequences of sexual dysfunction and improve relationships.
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    The cost of harmful alcohol use in South Africa
    (2014-02) Matzopoulos, R G; Truen, S; Bowman, B; et al.
    Background. The economic, social and health costs associated with alcohol-related harms are important measures with which to inform alcohol management policies and laws. This analysis builds on previous cost estimates for South Africa. Methods. We reviewed existing international best-practice costing frameworks to provide the costing definitions and dimensions. We sourced data from South African costing literature or, if unavailable, estimated costs using socio-economic and health data from secondary sources. Care was taken to avoid possible causes of cost overestimation, in particular double counting and, as far as possible, second-round effects of alcohol abuse. Results. The combined total tangible and intangible costs of alcohol harm to the economy were estimated at 10 - 12% of the 2009 gross domestic product (GDP). The tangible financial cost of harmful alcohol use alone was estimated at R37.9 billion, or 1.6% of the 2009 GDP. Discussion. The costs of alcohol-related harms provide a substantial counterbalance to the economic benefits highlighted by the alcohol industry to counter stricter regulation. Curtailing these costs by regulatory and policy interventions contributes directly and indirectly to social well-being and the economy. Conclusions. Existing frameworks that guide the regulation and distribution of alcohol frequently focus on maximising the contribution of the alcohol sector to the economy, but should also take into account the associated economic, social and health costs. Current interventions do not systematically address the most important causes of harm from alcohol, and need to be informed by reliable evidence of the ongoing costs of alcohol-related harms.
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    Setting ART initiation targets in response to changing guidelines : The importance of addressing both steady-state and backlog
    (2014-06) Martin, C; Naidoo, N P; Venter, W D F; et al.
    Background: Target setting is useful in planning, assessing and improving antiretroviral treatment (ART) programmes. In the past 4 years, the ART initiation environment has been transformed due to the change in eligibility criteria (starting ART at a CD4+ count <350 cells/μl v. <200 cells/μl) and the roll-out of nurse-initiated management of ART. Objective: To describe and illustrate the use of a target-setting model for estimating district-based targets in the era of an expanding ART programme and changing CD4+ count thresholds for ART initiation. Method: Using previously described models and data for annual new HIV infections, we estimated both steady-state need for ART initiation and backlog in a North West Province district, accounting for the shift in eligibility. Comparison of actual v. targeted ART initiations was undertaken. The change in CD4+ count threshold adds a once-off group of newly eligible patients to the pool requiring ART – the backlog. The steady-state remains unchanged as it is determined by the annual rate of new HIV infections in previous years. Results: The steady-state need for the district was 639 initiations/month, and the backlog was ~15 388 patients. After the shift in eligibility in September 2011, the steady-state target was exceeded over several months with some backlog addressed. Of the total backlog for this district, 72% remains to be cleared. Conclusion: South Africa has two pools of patients who need ART: the steady-state of HIV-infected patients entering the programme each year, determined by historical infection rates; and the backlog created by the shift in eligibility. The healthcare system needs to build longterm capacity to meet the steady-state need for ART and additional capacity to address the backlog.