OBJECTIVE: Despite recently published national guidelines, many physicians have only limited knowledge about Helicobacter pylori infection. We conducted this study to assess internal medicine residents' knowledge about H. priori. METHODS: Two hundred and nineteen residents in seven accredited internal medicine training programs completed a self-administered questionnaire on personal demographics and practices related to testing for - and treating - H. pylori infection. RESULTS: Noon conferences (82%), ward teaching (66%), journals (70%), and sponsored symposia (27%) were their major sources of H. pylori-related information. Forty-eight percent had used office-based tests for the infection. Testing for (and treatment of) Helicobacter pylori infection was recommended by 97% (97%) for newly diagnosed duodenal ulcer, but by only 61% (63%) for a past history of duodenal ulcer. Many recommended testing in unproven conditions and might not have offered treatment to an infected patient. A proton pump inhibitor-based triple-drug regimen was the treatment of first choice of 55%; 20% recommended proton pump inhibitor-based dual regimens. Sixty-six percent and 80%, respectively, underestimated the rates of resistance to clarithromycin and metronidazole. In the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms, 22% would have ordered Helicobacter pylori testing but only 33% of these would undergo treatment if positive. CONCLUSIONS: Internal medicine residents usually test for Helicobacter pylori infection in appropriate conditions, but may not always treat the infection when the result is positive. Most use efficacious treatment regimens although many have inaccurate knowledge of resistance rates, which may adversely influence prescribing. Education should focus on practical issues surrounding Helicobacter pylori testing and treatment such as those contained in the American College of Gastroenterology's 1998 practice guidelines. (C) 2000 by Am. Coll. of Gastroenterology.
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