Guided reflection: transcending a routine approach in the management of sexually transmissible infections Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper describes a distinctive approach to the sexually transmissible infections (STI) clinical consultation: 'the guided reflection approach'. The authors coined this term and identified the guided reflection approach through analysis of 22 in-depth interviews with practitioners who provide care for people with STI, and 34 people who had attended a healthcare facility in Australia for screening or treatment of an STI. A grounded theory method was used to collect and analyse this information. The data revealed when the STI consultation is conducted using the principles characterized by the guided reflection approach creates contexts for sexual empowerment that have the potential to effectively assist people to gain autonomy for safe sex. Routinely, most of the practitioners in this study were shown to direct the STI consultation towards risk behaviours and practices and prevention of transmission, with minimal intervention. However, this study shows that if clinical interaction is to make a difference to the patient's autonomy for sexual behaviour, two changes will be required. First, practitioners need to adopt the goal of assisting patients to attain levels of autonomy, and second, practitioners require education to assist them to develop the interactive skills needed to engage patients in dialogue and reflection about sexual behaviour.

publication date

  • September 2002