Australian sexual health practitioners' use of chaperones for genital examinations: a survey of attitudes and practice Academic Article uri icon


  • Objectives: To examine the current practice and attitudes of Australian sexual health practitioners towards the use of chaperones for genital examinations. Methods: In July 2006, an anonymous, self-completed questionnaire was mailed to members of the Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine. Results: Of the 166 questionnaires sent to practitioners, 110 (66%) were returned completed. Of the 110 respondents, only 9% and 19% reported that their clinic routinely provided chaperones for all male and female genital examinations, respectively. Among practitioners whose services did not offer chaperones routinely, chaperones were offered with a mean frequency of 19% for female examinations and 8% for male examinations (P = 0.01). Compared to female practitioners, significantly more male practitioners thought a chaperone was important for medico-legal purposes when examining females (72% v. 53%, P < 0.05). Compared to male practitioners, significantly more female practitioners thought a chaperone was sometimes important for patient support when examining male patients (52% v. 26%, P < 0.001). Only 39% (n = 18) of male practitioners and 36% (n = 23) of female practitioners felt that resources spent on chaperones were justified by the benefits they provided. Conclusions: Despite only a minority of practitioners offering chaperones to patients or using them during examinations, many feel they are important for medico-legal reasons and as support for the patient. Best practice may be for services to routinely offer a chaperone and record instances where an offer is declined. This provides patients with choice and practitioners with some level of protection.


  • Newton, Danielle C
  • Fairley, Christopher K
  • Teague, Richard
  • Donovan, Basil
  • Bowden, Francis J
  • Bilardi, Jade
  • Pitts, Marian
  • Chen, Marcus Y

publication date

  • 2007

has subject area