Preliminary program evaluation of emergency department HIV prevention counseling
Objective: Controversy surrounds the linkage of prevention counseling with emergency department (ED)based HIV testing. Further, the effectiveness and feasibility of prevention counseling in the ED setting is unknown. We investigate these issues by conducting a preliminarily exploration of several related aspects of our ED's HIV prevention counseling and testing program. Methods: Our urban, academic ED provides formal client-centered prevention counseling in conjunction with HIV testing. Five descriptive, exploratory observations were conducted, involving surveys and analysis of electronic medical records and programmatic data focused on (1) patient perception and feasibility of prevention counseling in the ED, (2) patient perceptions of the need to link prevention counseling with testing, and (3) potential effectiveness of providing prevention counseling in conjunction with ED-based HIV testing. Results: Of 110 ED patients surveyed after prevention counseling and testing, 98% believed privacy was adequate, and 97% reported that their questions were answered. Patients stated that counseling would lead to improved health (80%), behavioral changes (72%), follow-up testing (77%), and discussion with partners (74%). However, 89% would accept testing without counseling, 32% were willing to seek counseling elsewhere, and 26% preferred not to receive the counseling. Correct responses to a 16-question knowledge quiz increased by 1.6 after counseling (95% confidence interval 1.3 to 12.0). The program completed counseling for 97% of patients tested; however, 6% of patients had difficulty recalling the encounter and 13% denied received testing. Among patients undergoing repeated testing, there was no consistent change in self-reported risk behaviors. Conclusion: Participants in the ED prevention counseling and testing program considered counseling acceptable and useful, though not required. Given adequate resources, prevention counseling can be provided in the ED, but it is unlikely that all patients benefit. Copyright © 2011 by the American College of Emergency Physicians.
Sitlinger, AP; Lindsell, CJ; Ruffner, AH; Wayne, DB; Hart, KW; Trott, AT; Fichtenbaum, CJ; Lyons, MS
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