Improving quality of sexually transmitted disease case management in rural South Africa

Abigail Harrison*, David Wilkinson, Mark Lurie, Ann Marie Connolly, Salim Abdool Karim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To measure quality of sexually transmitted disease (STD) syndromic case management and aspects of health-seeking behaviour at baseline in an intervention trial. Setting: Ten rural primary care clinics, Hlabisa district, South Africa. Design: Simulated patients (fieldworkers trained to present with STD syndromes) made a total of 44 clinic visits; 49 STD patients were interviewed when exiting clinics; facilities were assessed for availability of necessary equipment and drugs; 10 focus group discussions were held with staff; and STD syndrome surveillance was performed in all 10 clinics. Results: A total of 9% of simulated patients were correctly managed (given correct drugs, plus condoms and partner notification cards), recommended drug treatment was given in only 41% of visits, and appropriate counselling was given in 48% of visits. Among patients leaving the clinic, although 39% waited over an hour to be seen and only 37% were consulted in private, all reported staff attitudes as satisfactory or good. Only six clinics had syndromic management protocols available, three reported intermittent drug shortages, and seven lacked partner notification cards. Focus group discussions revealed good staff knowledge about STD, but showed lack of training in syndromic management and low morale. Surveillance data showed that while 75% of those presenting for care did so within 1 week of symptom onset, 27% had been treated for an STD in the preceding 3 months, and only 6% of those treated were contacts. Conclusions: Quality of STD case management was poor despite good staff knowledge and availability of most essential resources. An intervention comprising staff training and STD syndrome packets has been designed to improve quality of case management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2329-2335
Number of pages7
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Africa
  • Education
  • Prevention
  • Sexual transmission


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