Emergency Medicine Resident Attitudes and Perceptions of HIV Testing Before and After a Focused Training Program and Testing Implementation


  • Presented in part at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine annual meeting, Chicago, Illinois, May 2007.

  • This study was funded by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, OCPMP 05-8577.

  • The authors do not have associations that might pose a potential conflict of interest.

Address for correspondence and reprints: Dr. Yu-Hsiang Hsieh; e-mail: yhsieh1@jhmi.edu.


Objectives:  The objectives were to determine attitudes and perceptions (A&P) of emergency medicine (EM) residents toward emergency department (ED) routine provider-driven rapid HIV testing services and the impact of both a focused training program (FTP) and implementation of HIV testing on A&P.

Methods:  A three-phase, consecutive, anonymous, identity-unlinked survey was conducted pre-FTP, post-FTP, and 6 months postimplementation. The survey was designed to assess residents’ A&P using a five-point Likert scale. A preimplementation FTP provided both the rationale for the HIV testing program and the planned operational details of the intervention. The HIV testing program used only indigenous ED staff to deliver HIV testing as part of standard-of-care in an academic ED. The impact of the FTP and implementation on A&P were analyzed by multivariate regression analysis using generalized estimating equations to control for repeated measurements in the same individuals. A “favorable” A&P was operationally defined as a mean score of >3.5, “neutral” as mean score of 2.5 to 3.5, and “unfavorable” as mean score of <2.5.

Results:  Thirty of 36 residents (83.3%) participated in all three phases. Areas of favorable A&P found in phase I and sustained through phases II and III included “ED serving as a testing venue” (score range = 3.7–4.1) and “emergency medicine physicians offering the test” (score range = 3.9–4.1). Areas of unfavorable and neutral A&P identified in phase I were all operational barriers and included required paperwork (score = 3.2), inadequate staff support (score = 2.2), counseling and referral requirements (score range = 2.2–3.1), and time requirements (score = 2.9). Following the FTP, significant increases in favorable A&P were observed with regard to impact of the intervention on modification of patient risk behaviors, decrease in rates of HIV transmission, availability of support staff, and self-confidence in counseling and referral (p < 0.05). At 6 months postimplementation, all A&P except for time requirements and lack of support staff scored favorably or neutral. During the study period, 388 patients were consented for and received HIV testing; six (1.5%) were newly confirmed HIV positive.

Conclusions:  Emergency medicine residents conceptually supported HIV testing services. Most A&P were favorably influenced by both the FTP and the implementation. All areas of negative A&P involved operational requirements, which may have influenced the low overall uptake of HIV testing during the study period.