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J Am Board Fam Pract. 1999 Jan-Feb;12(1):16-20.

Factors affecting the circumcision decision.

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  • 1Family Health Center, Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center, Napierville, Ill 60564, USA.



Studies from more than 10 years ago have shown that most parents choose circumcision for their infant sons for nonmedical reasons. Since then a wealth of data has accumulated on the relative risks and benefits of the procedure, although the medical community remains divided on the appropriateness of the procedure. Whether the ongoing research effort and medical debate have had an effect on parental decision making is unknown.


A survey of parents of 55 male infants was conducted to determine when the parents made their decision regarding circumcision, whether discussions with providers affected their decisions, and what the reasons were for their decisions.


Eighty percent of parents made the circumcision decision before provider discussions. Seventeen percent reported changing their mind based on their provider's discussion, although it did not significantly affect the circumcision rate. Eighty-three percent of parents reported their provider's attitude as neutral, including 7 of 8 patients who changed their mind based on the discussion; only 1 patient was circumcised based on the provider's recommendation. Predominant reasons for circumcision were ease of hygiene (67 percent), ease of infant circumcision compared with adult circumcision (63 percent), medical benefit (41 percent), and father circumcised (37 percent). Reasons for no circumcision included unnecessary (73 percent), painful (36 percent), and father uncircumcised (18 percent).


Most parents have made a decision on circumcision before physicians discuss it, and physician discussions appear to have little impact on the decision. Ease of cleanliness is still the most common reason parents choose circumcision.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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