<imgsrc=”” border=”0″ align=”left” alt=”image”>Background
Expedited partner therapy (EPT) refers to the practice of having patients diagnosed with chlamydia or gonorrhea deliver medication directly to their partner(s) to treat them presumptively for infection. Although EPT facilitates timely treatment and prevents reinfection, it remains underused. We used findings from key informant interviews to design and implement a statewide survey to estimate knowledge and utilization of EPT and to identify barriers and facilitators to EPT among Minnesota providers.
From November to December 2020, we carried out 15 interviews with health providers who currently provide EPT and coded interviews by recurring themes. We then conducted a statewide online survey on sexually transmitted infection treatment and barriers to EPT, from December 2020 to March 2021. We disseminated the survey to all licensed Minnesota health providers, and those who reported treating bacterial sexually transmitted infections in the past year were included in the study.
Interview themes included the importance of direct provision of partner medication, administrative/pharmacy barriers to treatment, inclusive EPT eligibility, and patient counseling. Of the 623 health providers who completed the online survey, only 70% thought EPT was legal and only 37% currently offer EPT. Of those who did not provide EPT, 78% said they would under certain circumstances. Barriers included concerns about safety/liability of prescribing without a medical examination, administrative concerns about prescriptions, and patient acceptance.
Given that over a quarter of respondents did not know expedited partner therapy (EPT)’s legal status, improving provider education may increase EPT provision. More research is needed on system-level barriers and patient acceptance of solutions identified in this study.