Knowledge, attitudes, and practices of Illinois medical professionals related to ticks and tick-borne disease

Dawn A. Carson, Heather Kopsco, Peg Gronemeyer, Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, Genee S. Smith, Emma N. Sandstrom, Rebecca L. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The rising incidence of tick-borne disease (TBD) underscores the importance of proficiency in TBD diagnosis. Clinicians' knowledge about vector ticks and TBDs in their area may influence whether patients are questioned about potential tick exposure and the consideration of diagnostic testing for TBDs. Objective: Our objective was to assess the knowledge, attitudes, and practices of Illinois clinicians towards ticks and TBDs. The study aimed to 1) identify predictors associated with knowledge, 2) identify knowledge gaps, and 3) evaluate attitudes and practices related to TBDs. Methods: A web-based knowledge, attitudes, and practices survey about Illinois ticks and TBDs was disseminated to physicians, mid-level practitioners, and nurses between August 2020 and February 2022. Poisson regression analysis was conducted to identify predictors of higher scores. Results: Of 346 respondents, 80% correctly identified Lyme disease as endemic to Illinois, and 95% were familiar with diagnostic testing for Lyme. Knowledge of other TBDs present in the state was highest among physicians, yet only 26% of physicians believed Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) to be present in Illinois, and only 17% believed ehrlichiosis to be endemic. Only 32% of physicians knew the cause of Alpha-gal syndrome and fewer than 18% were aware of available diagnostic testing. Tick or TBD-related education within the past two years was the most significant predictor of higher scores, increasing overall knowledge scores by 26% (RR 1.26, 95% CI 1.13–1.41) and increasing scores specific to TBDs by 42% (RR 1.42, 95% CI 1.19–1.69). Conclusion: Illinois clinicians were informed about Lyme disease but lacked knowledge of other TBDs endemic to the state, including RMSF, ehrlichiosis, and Alpha-gal syndrome. The strongest predictor of knowledge was tick/TBD training in the previous two years, highlighting the importance of frequent region-specific training on ticks and TBDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100424
JournalOne Health
Volume15
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Keywords

  • A-gal
  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Rocky mountain spotted fever
  • Tick-borne disease
  • Ticks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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