How are men with urethral discharge managed in general practice?

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Chlamydia and gonorrhoea remain major causes of morbidity despite the availability of effective therapy. Because of the asymptomatic nature of many infections, particularly in women, active case finding is necessary to trace and offer screening and treatment to sexual contacts of those infected. Genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics provide investigation and treatment for a variety of sexual health problems but the proportion of infections treated outside these clinics is unknown.

A questionnaire survey of general practitioners (GPs) was used to examine the prevalence and management of male urethritis in Scotland.

Responses were received from 277/347 (80%) of GPs. A median of one case/year of male urethritis was seen and screening for gonorrhoea and chlamydia was undertaken in 82% and 63% of cases not referred to a GUM clinic respectively. Six per cent of GPs attempted to trace sexual contacts. Twenty-nine per cent (60) of patients were not referred to a GUM clinic and increasing distance to the clinic was associated with non-referral. Eleven per cent (18) of patients objected to referral to a GUM clinic.

There is scope to improve the management of male urethritis by providing greater support for GPs, encouraging clinic referral where possible and appropriate investigations and treatment when not.

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