General practitioner attitudes to discussing sexual health issues with older people

Soc Sci Med. 2004 Jun;58(11):2093-103. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2003.08.025.


How health professionals perceive and manage later life sexual problems remains relatively unexplored and, in particular, little is known about the attitudes of GPs, who represent the first point of contact for most older people in the UK who experience sexual health concerns. This paper draws on qualitative data generated from in-depth interviews with 22 GPs working in demographically diverse primary care practices in Sheffield, UK. Analysis identified that GPs do not address sexual health proactively with older people and that, within primary care, sexual health is equated with younger people and not seen as a 'legitimate' topic for discussion with this age group. However, it was apparent that many beliefs held about the sexual attitudes and behaviours of older people were based on stereotyped views of ageing and sexuality, rather than personal experience of individual patients. The discussion considers the implications of these findings for primary care, particularly in relation to education and training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Marital Status
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians, Family / education
  • Physicians, Family / psychology*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / therapy
  • Sexuality / psychology*