Are patient responses to sensitive sexual health questions influenced by the sex of the practitioner?

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Abstract

Objective:

To determine whether a patient’s responses to sensitive questions about their sexual behaviour are influenced by the sex of their treating practitioner.

Methods:

An audit was conducted on the computerised medical records of all patients attending the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre through the walk-in triage system between January 2003 and July 2005. Patient responses to sensitive questions about their sexual behaviour were analysed according to patient group (based upon the sex of their sexual partners) and the sex of the treating practitioner.

Results:

There was no significant difference in the reported number of sexual partners, condom use, sex overseas, injecting drug use, or commercial sex work based on the sex of the treating practitioner for the different patient groups. This held true whether clients were homosexual men (n = 1609, p>0.07), heterosexual men (n = 4847, p>0.11), or women (n = 4910, p>0.08).

Conclusions:

The sex of the practitioner did not significantly influence patient responses to sensitive questions about their sexual behaviour.

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