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Research Paper Open Access
Background In the UK, the conviction of several general practitioners for sex offences against patients has led to recommendations on use of chaperones in general practice.Aim To determine (i) the preferences of patients for the presence of a chaperone and (ii) the use of chaperones in primary care.Design Qualitative review of published articles.Method A bibliographic search for articles published up to March 2007 reporting quantitative or qualitative studies of patients’ views on and professionals’ use of chaperones in primary health care.Results Five studies of patients’ views were identified, none being undertaken in more than three general practices. In two studies, 75–90% of respondents wanted a chaperone offered, but in a third only 35% of females and 10% of males wanted achaperone offered. In all studies, patients’ preferences for the presence of a chaperone varied depending on a variety of factors, including age and sex of the patient and doctor. Ten studies of the use of chaperones were identified and indicated that male general practitioners increasingly report routine offer and use of a chaperone for intimate examinations of female patients, but female general practitioners commonly do not.Conclusion The studies included in this review indicate that male general practitioners should adopt a policy of routinely offering a chaperone by a practice nurse for intimate examinations of female patients. Research into the role of chaperones is limited, and more evidence is needed about how and when offers should be made by male and female primary healthcare professionals, the views of certain patient groups including ethnic minorities, and the costs of ensuring the ready availability ofchaperones in primary care.
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Author(s): Richard Baker
Innovative primary care, Primary care medicines, Advanced concepts in primary care