Is family medicine meeting the HIV/AIDS challenge? A national survey of family physicians' beliefs, clinical competence, and experience regarding HIV disease
A national sample of family physicians was surveyed to (1) assess family physicians' beliefs about the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and individuals at risk for infection, their clinical competence regarding HIV-related issues, and their experiences with HIV disease; (2) present conclusions to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) to effect the development of an early clinical care protocol and a continuing medical education curriculum; and (3) collect base-line data for use in the evaluation of an early clinical care protocol and a continuing medical education curriculum, in the case that such programs are developed and disseminated. After considering retired or deceased respondents, of the 2,660 physicians surveyed, 1,678 (63.7%) responded. The resulting sample was representative of the active members of the AAFP. About 77% of the respondents were unable to accurately identify the universal precautions for blood and body fluids to prevent occupational transmission of HIV or hepatitis B virus (HBV). Residency trained and board certified physicians expressed fewer "external constraints," such as fear of losing patients, obviating them from providing treatment to individuals with HIV disease (p =.004 and p $<$.001, respectively). These physicians also manifested fewer "internal constraints" to the provision of HIV treatment, such as fear of becoming infected (p $<$.001 and p =.012, respectively). Residency trained physicians also expressed a greater comfort with discussing sexually-related topics with their patients than did non-residency trained physicians (p $<$.001). There were 67.1% of the physicians surveyed who reported never providing treatment to an individual with HIV disease. Residency trained and board certified physicians expressed a greater likelihood to provide treatment to HIV-infected patients (p $<$.001) than non-residency trained and non-board certified physicians. Among the various primary care specialties, family medicine is especially vulnerable to the current challenges of HIV/AIDS. These challenges are augmented by the epidemiologic pattern that characterizes AIDS. For the past several years, we have seen AIDS in this country assume a similar pattern to that seen in most other countries; HIV is becoming increasingly prevalent in the heterosexual population as well as in locations removed from metropolitan centers. This current phase of the epidemic generates greater pressures upon primary care physicians, particularly family physicians, to become better acquainted with the means to provide early care to HIV/AIDS patients and to prevent HIV/AIDS among their patients. Family medicine is especially appropriate for providing care to HIV patients because family medicine involves treatment to all age groups and conditions; other primary care specialties focus on limited patient populations or specific conditions. Family physicians should be armed with the expertise to confront HIV/AIDS. However, family physicians' clinical competence and experience with HIV is not known. The data collected in this survey describes their competencies, attitudes, and experiences.
Ryan, John Gerard, "Is family medicine meeting the HIV/AIDS challenge? A national survey of family physicians' beliefs, clinical competence, and experience regarding HIV disease" (1991). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9130696.