Comparison of Patient Comprehension of Rapid HIV Pre-Test Fundamentals by Information Delivery Format in an Emergency Department Setting, Roland C. Merchant et al., 7 BMC Public Health 238 (2007)

Research and Journal Articles

This paper discusses the results of two trials conducted in emergency rooms to compare patient comprehension of rapid HIV pre-test information using different methods to deliver this information. In one trial, patients received either no pre-test information or an in-person discussion. In the second trial, a separate group of patients received either an in-person discussion or an educational video entitled “Do you know about rapid HIV testing?” The authors conclude, based on a similar measurement of comprehension among video-educated versus in-person educated, that use of a video can be an acceptable substitute for an in-person pre-test discussion on rapid HIV testing. The authors also conclude that either form of pre-test counseling is preferable than providing patients with no information prior to HIV rapid testing. However, it is also useful to have some understanding of what the researchers apparently considered adequate pre-test information. A review of the outline used for counseling (Figure 1, included in the article) suggests that the view of what constitutes adequate information is certainly subjective; to some, the pre-test information might seem adequate in many respects, while the same information may seem incomplete or even misleading in others. For example, the counseling outline suggests that only by knowing one’s HIV status can one prevent transmission. (Figure 1, Benefits of Testing). It also suggests that negative consequences of testing, such as job loss and insurance discrimination, are problems that existed only in the past. (Figure 1, Consequences of Testing).