Enhanced syphilis management in general practice
Syphilis is a significant and growing public health issue in Australia. The past decade has seen over a three-fold increase in infectious syphilis rates with reproductive aged women increasingly affected. Syphilis in women carries the risk of mother to child transmission and tragically congenital syphilis has re-emerged. During 2015-2020 there were 47 cases nationally, leading to considerable morbidity and/or infant mortality. Timely diagnosis and optimal management including effective treatment are crucial to reducing syphilis transmission and harms. However growing syphilis rates and increasing morbidity indicate gaps in detection and treatment.
General practice is the first point of care for many STIs and is prioritised in Australian and Victorian STI policy as a key setting for strengthening STI care. New and effective interventions are needed to facilitate syphilis detection and management in general practice.
Future health today (FHT) is an existing software developed by the University of Melbourne initially for chronic disease. FHT integrates with electronic medical record systems used by >90% of general practices and scans patient records to i) generate lists of patients who can be targeted for testing or care; and, ii) at the point of care to provide pop-up recommendations and links to relevant resources for decision support. The features of FHT can be expanded to other conditions.
This project will build on FHT by co-designing, developing a prototype of a syphilis module in FHT that supports syphilis detection and interpretation of syphilis serology in general practice. The usability of the syphilis module in general practice will be assessed interviews with general practice staff.
Ethics approval for the usability assessment will be sought from the University of Melbourne Human Research Ethics Committee.
This project is being undertaken by Dr Jane Goller in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health in collaboration with the Department of General Practice, the Victorian Department of Health and Melbourne Sexual Health Centre.
Co-investigators and collaborators
- A/Prof Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne
- Prof Lena Sanci, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne
- Prof Douglas Boyle, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne
- Dr Barbara Hunter, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne
- Prof Jane Hocking, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne
- A/Prof Marcus Chen, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre
- Ms Rebecca Wigans, Melbourne Sexual Health Centre
- Ms Heather O’Donnell, Victorian Government, Department of Health
- Dr Chang June Jung, Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne
This project is funded by a University of Melbourne Early Career Researcher Grant (ID ECR 503493).
Research outcomes will be available here on the completion of the study.