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Contraception. 2003 Apr;67(4):313-7.

Attitudes towards pelvic examination and chaperones: a questionnaire survey of patients and providers.

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Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust Family Planning and Well Woman Service Clinical, 18 Dean Terrace, EH4 1NL, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.


Some women find pelvic examinations distressing. Some doctors use this as an excuse not to do them. Most professional organizations recommend the presence of a chaperone for every pelvic examination. In family-planning clinics, usually staffed predominantly by women, the provision of a chaperone for every pelvic examination is a burden to the efficient running of clinics and may not be necessary. Views about pelvic examinations and chaperones were sought from 1000 women attending a family-planning clinic and 98 health-care professionals. The majority of women (59%) do not mind being examined, and when the examiner is female most women do not particularly want a chaperone. One-third of women (34%) actively object to a chaperone. Health professionals are not good at predicting women's feelings and expectations about pelvic examinations. Young women (under 25) and nulligravid women are more likely to find pelvic examinations distressing but not more likely to want a chaperone present. Chaperones should be offered to, but not inflicted upon, women undergoing pelvic examination. Younger women need a particularly sensitive approach. Providers should not be deterred from doing pelvic examinations if they are clinically indicated in the mistaken belief that women will object.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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