Survey: Improved Communication Needed to Address Common Gynecologic Infection

Published Online: Tuesday, October 16th, 2018
Associated risks of bacterial vaginosis (BV) are unknown to many women, despite having health care providers report that this crucial information is being shared with patients. The results of an online survey indicate a significant disconnect in communication between patients and providers regarding BV.

BV affects 21 million women each year in the United States, and is one of the most prevalent gynecologic infections. According to the survey, further education is needed to bridge the gap in communication, and would help women to obtain diagnosis and treatment initiation sooner. While most surveyed patients (63%) said their health care provider discussed general information about BV, far fewer (34%) say they discussed the risks associated with BV if left untreated.

Conducted by Lupin Pharmaceuticals in a partnership with the American Sexual Health Association and the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health (NPWH), the survey and its results were presented last week, during the NPWH Premier Women’s Health Conference in San Antonio, TX.

According to Nick Hart, President, Specialty, Lupin Pharmaceuticals, BV is the most common gynecologic infection. However, it often goes undiagnosed, so women do not get the necessary treatment.

“Due to the risk factors associated with untreated BV, immediate diagnosis and treatment is of high importance,” said Hart, in a prepared statement. “By presenting the survey data, we hope to shine a light on the gap between what HCPs believe they’re sharing with patients and the information that patients are actually taking away. If we can close that gap by encouraging a more productive dialogue, we can help shorten the path to diagnosis and treatment.”

The survey polled 304 female patients in the United States, between the ages of 18 and 49 years, who had been diagnosed with BV within the past 2 years. In addition, 150 OB/GYNs, and 151 nurse practitioners (NPs) certified in women’s health or OB/GYN physician assistants who see an average of 20 or more women with BV in a month, were polled.

“The incidence of BV is staggering—we know that 1 in 3 women will get BV at some point in her life, yet the condition often goes undiagnosed,” said Brooke Faught, NP and clinical director of the Women's Institute for Sexual Health (WISH) in Nashville, TN, in a prepared statement. “As providers, we believe that we’re sharing vital information about BV with our patients, yet these survey findings demonstrate the need to ensure that patients not only understand the symptoms, but the significant risks associated with this most common gynecologic infection.”

Left untreated, BV can increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, trichomoniasis and HIV. Untreated BV can also increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which may affect fertility; and can lead to pre-term birth and low birth weight. According to Lupin, less than half of women with BV (43%) report that they are aware that untreated BV can cause an increased risk of STDs, and even fewer (38%) are aware that it can lead to an increased risk of early labor or birth. The impact is notable—three quarters (76%) of surveyed women indicated they would have seen their HCP sooner had they were aware of the risks associated with untreated BV.

In addition to patient-provider communication, the survey addressed the issue of treatment adherence. The results indicated that while most patients reported using their treatment as prescribed (90% for those who used an oral antibiotic; 87% for those who used vaginal cream), 29% who have used prescription BV treatments feel the currently available therapies for the condition are very difficult to complete. However, the vast majority of women with BV (91%) would be open to trying new treatment options for BV.

According to Faught, the survey results demonstrate the need for clearer and more open dialogue between health care providers and patients in order to facilitate prompt treatment, and to encourage treatment compliance. “Additionally, (health care providers) must stay informed about less cumbersome treatment options that may help patients adhere,” said Faught, in a statement.


Reference

Survey data reveals the need for improved communication between patients and healthcare providers about bacterial vaginosis (BV), the most common gynecologic infection in the U.S. [news release]. Baltimore, MD; October 16, 2018: Lupin Pharmaceuticals. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181015005904/en. Accessed October 16, 2018.



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