A model of physician intentions toward initiating a dialogue about sexual health with women
Background: Clinicians report a general awareness of the high prevalence of female sexual problems and recognize the risk for substantial emotional and psychological consequences. However, women are unlikely to seek medical help for their sexual health complaints and physicians are unlikely to inquire about them. The purpose of this study was to employ the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to identify the determinants of physicians’ intentions to initiate a discussion with pre-menopausal women about sexual health.
Methods: A sample of 584 physicians (299 OB/GYNs, 285 PCPs) was administered a questionnaire containing 27 questions based on the theory of planned behavior. We analyzed the effects of attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control on physician intention for PCP and OB/GYN samples.
Results: The TPB was found to be useful in understanding and predicting physician intention to initiate a discussion with pre-menopausal women about sexual health among PCPs and OB/GYNs. Variables found to contribute most to the ability of the model to predict intention to initiate a discussion were perceived expectations of both the women in their practice and their colleagues and personal attitudes towards initiating discussion.
Conclusions: Attitudes of physicians are significant predictors of intentions to initiate dialogue. As such, interventions that are based on the components of the TPB may help facilitate physician communications about sexual health with women in their practice. Findings may also be useful for clinicians to note the effect of their attitudes and the role of sexual health communication within their practice.
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