Article Title

Perceptions of barriers to discussing and testing for sexually transmitted infections in a convenience sample of general practice patients


We aimed to identify patient perceptions of barriers to discussing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) at the primary care level. An anonymous questionnaire was available to patients (16–70 years) in the waiting room of four metropolitan Perth general practices. Results are based on 370 participant views (9.5% of the potential target population). Patients felt comfortable discussing STIs with their general practitioner (GP) and their level of comfort would be enhanced if they knew their GP had a special interest or qualification in sexual health. Willingness to discuss issues increased or remained unchanged if the GP took time to explain it to them or was a good listener. Patients were willing to discuss STIs if they were a new patient and irrespective of the GP’s gender and age. Fewer patients were willing to discuss STIs if they knew the GP socially. Patients who had sex with a new partner were willing to request a STI test from their GP. Patients were not embarrassed if discussion was initiated in a consultation unrelated to sexual health and did not mind discussing the topic in the presence of a partner or parent, though this depended on circumstances. Waiting room STI test advertising did not affect patient comfort level. Patients would involve their GP when seeking information about STIs. Patients have fewer barriers to discussing sexual health matters than perceived by GPs.


sexually transmitted infections, STUs

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