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J Natl Med Assoc. 2009 Apr;101(4):325-30.

Psychosocial factors influence parental decision for circumcision in pediatric males of African American descent.

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Division of Urology, Howard University Hospital Washington, DC 20001, USA.



The most recent policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests there are insufficient data to recommend routine newborn circumcision. Nevertheless, circumcision rates have not declined in the United States. Some studies suggest that African Americans are less likely to be circumcised. In blacks that choose to circumcise their males, we sought to examine the factors that drive parents to favor circumcision.


The Parental Attitudes on Circumcision questionnaire was utilized to obtain demographic information and attitudinal responses to circumcision during urology clinic sessions at Howard University Hospital, a major teaching hospital located in an urban setting. Parents and caregivers of male children aged 3 months to 7 years participated. Valid responses from 146 participants were collected.


Ninety-six percent of our respondents believe that circumcision is healthy. Forty-one percent indicated health reasons as the most important influencing factor for choosing to circumcise their child, while 25% selected maternal preference. Eighty-one percent of all respondents indicated that 1 or more health care providers asked about their decision to circumcise their child. The mother was 12 times more likely than the father to make the final decision for circumcision, especially when her personal preference played a role. Eighty-eight percent of respondents felt that circumcision is painful, but 87% considered the procedure safe, and another 72% believe that it is a necessary procedure.


African American parents strongly believe that circumcision is essential for a healthy state and are willing to opt for the procedure despite the belief that it may be painful for the child. The mother primarily made the final decision to circumcise her child, largely based on the perceived health and hygiene benefits. In blacks, the mother yields considerable influence in the decision to circumcise the child, with maternal preference as the main reason for seeking circumcision in as much as a quarter of cases.

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