Diagnosis and testing practices for adolescent pertussis among a national sample of primary care physicians

Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit, University of Michigan, 300 North Ingalls, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5456, USA.
Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.09). 04/2009; 48(5):500-4. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.02.020
Source: PubMed


Adolescents are a primary reservoir for propagating pertussis infection. This study aimed to describe diagnosis and testing practices for adolescent pertussis among a national sample of primary care physicians.
From January to March, 2007 we administered a written survey to a United States sample of American Medical Association physicians that included 725 family practitioners (FPs) and 725 general pediatricians (PDs).
Response rate was 60% (n=702). Overall, 16% of respondents indicated that they did not test adolescents for pertussis as part of their clinical practice. A similar proportion did not recognize the clinical manifestations of pertussis in a standardized adolescent case patient. FPs were less likely than PDs to test for pertussis in general and to diagnose the case patient with pertussis. Barriers to testing adolescents for pertussis included delay in obtaining test results (52%), inconvenience of sample collection (29%), lack of testing supplies (29%), lack of familiarity with testing protocols (28%) and cost (22%).
Our results suggest that a substantial number of primary care physicians do not utilize pertussis testing and may not be able to recognize the clinical symptoms of this infection in adolescents. Interventions to improve physician knowledge about this important public health issue may be warranted.

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