Influence of position during examination, and sex of examiner on patient anxiety during pelvic examination

J Pediatr. 1986 Feb;108(2):312-7. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3476(86)81011-3.


It has been reported that adult women prefer the semi-sitting position over the supine position for the pelvic examination. We determined the effect of the pelvic examination position and the examiner's gender on adolescent anxiety with the pelvic examination. Adolescent girls (n = 112) aged 12 to 19 years were randomly assigned to a semi-sitting or supine position and to a male or female physician. Before and after the examination questionnaires containing the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and other scales were administered. There were no differences between the groups in pre-examination anxiety or concern. Patients in the semi-sitting group reported fewer negative responses during the examination when examined by a male physician (P less than or equal to 0.009); those in the supine group reported fewer negative responses when examined by a female physician. These findings persisted after controlling for previous pelvic examinations, frequency of sexual activity, and Tanner stage. Patients who had previously had a pelvic examination and were examined in the semi-sitting position by a male physician reported the lowest levels of post-examination anxiety (P less than or equal to 0.02). Patients who had never had a pelvic examination expressed less anxiety if they were examined in the semi-sitting position by a female physician. These data suggest that the patient's previous history of pelvic examinations and the gender of the examiner should be considered when selecting the pelvic examination position.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety*
  • Attitude
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gynecology*
  • Humans
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Physical Examination*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Posture*
  • Random Allocation