Family Physicians' Support for School-Based HIV Prevention Education Programs
John G. Ryan, DrPH;
Grant C. Fowler, MD;
Lu Ann Aday, PhD;
Susan M. Miller, MD, MPH
Arch Fam Med. 1993;2(6):637-644.
To identify the extent to which family physicians support school-based education programs regarding the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Sexually active adolescents are at risk for infection with HIV. Education programs on HIV that target this vulnerable group effectively prevent infection, yet family physicians are often not directly involved in the design and implementation of such programs.
A systematic random sample of 2660 members of the American Academy of Family Physicians was surveyed using a mailed questionnaire to assess clinical experiences with HIV disease, willingness to provide HIV treatment, and support for school-based HIV education programs. The response rate was 63.7%. Poststratification weights were applied to adjust for the slight under-representation of non—board-certified physicians in the study sample.
Support for school-based HIV counseling programs was overwhelmingly positive. The mean level of support was 1.28 (with 1 indicating strong approval and 4 strong disapproval). Physicians' attitudes toward programs that include condom availability were marginally less favorable (1.92). Residency trained (P=.009) and female physicians (P=.010) expressed the greatest support for school-based programs. Physicians with fewer professional concerns about providing direct HIV patient care (P=.030) and who believed that communication with their patients about sexuality was an acceptable component of clinical care (P<.001) were most likely to support school-based programs.
Family physicians can play an important role in designing and implementing HIV education programs. The results of these analyses suggest family physicians may be relied on to endorse school-based HIV prevention programs, including programs that make condoms available to adolescents. School and public health authorities should enlist family physicians' assistance when planning and implementing these or related community-based HIV education activities.
From the Department of Family Practice and Community Medicine, The University of Texas—Houston Medical School (Drs Ryan and Fowler), and the Department of Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas—Houston School of Public Health (Drs Ryan and Aday), University of Texas—Houston Health Science Center; Hermann Hospital/Lyndon Baines Johnson General Hospital Family Practice Residency Program (Dr Fowler), and the Departments of Medicine and Family Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, and Harris County Hospital District (Dr Miller), Houston.
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