Patient preferences in discussing sexual dysfunctions in primary care

Fam Med. 2014 Feb;46(2):124-8.


Background and objectives: There are multiple barriers that limit patients and primary care physicians (PCPs) from discussing sexual dysfunctions (SDs) during medical appointments. Exploring patient preferences in discussing SDs with PCPs may help address some barriers, which can improve doctor-patient communication about SDs, delivery of health care, and patient quality of life.

Methods: A sample (n=108) of adult patients from an urban primary care clinic completed a 5--10 minute anonymous opinion questionnaire about their preferences in discussing SDs with PCPs.

Results: The majority of participants agreed that PCPs should give information to all patients (74%), ask all patients (69%), and have questions on medical history forms (55%) about SDs. Fifty-eight (58%) participants preferred to start the conversations about SDs with PCPs themselves, but all of these participants did not object to PCPs asking them about SDs. Participants who had ever experienced SD symptoms were more likely to want questions on medical history forms and for PCPs to ask about SDs.

Conclusions: Participants preferred discussions about SDs with PCPs through various means (ie, medical history forms, medical appointments). Although participants were divided on who (patient versus PCP) should start conversations about SDs, the majority of participants did not object to PCPs inquiring about SDs during office visits or on medical history forms. Patients in poorer health and with self-reported SDs may need PCPs to inquire about SDs. Recommendations to improve health care delivery are suggested, including PCPs inquiring about SDs with all patients, especially with individuals in poorer health or with histories of SDs.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Counseling*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Preference*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult