Teenagers' preferences regarding the presence of family members, peers, and chaperones during examination of genitalia

Pediatrics. 1981 Nov;68(5):665-9.


During physical examination that include the genitalia, teenagers are typically separated from their parents and females are provided with a chaperone. To assess teenagers' attitudes regarding this practice, 140 females and 60 males awaiting treatment in a general adolescent clinic were asked their opinion about a physical examination that include the genitalia. Teenagers indicated whether they would want to be accompanied during the examination, and by whom, as a function of the hypothetical clinical situation that varied the sex and familiarity of the physician. Choices reflected teenagers' age and sex, rather than physician characteristics. Young males and females strongly preferred to be accompanied, generally by a family member. With increasing age, males preferred to be alone with the physician whereas females preferred to be accompanied. Regardless of sex and age, virtually none chose the company of peers. Despite strong development differences, however, there also were pronounced individual differences among teenagers of the same age. Our results suggest that service delivery be adapted to the particular preference expressed by individual teenagers. Needs assessment for adolescent programs may best be achieved by conducting similar surveys in local clinical settings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Female
  • Genitalia*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Examination*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Sex Factors