Objective: To examine the relationship between age and condom use among women who are typically seen in the primary care setting.
Design: Survey of a population using a self-administered questionnaire.
Setting: Four community-based family practice clinics located in a low-income, racially mixed geographical area.
Patients: All consenting patients (N = 995) during their visits for routine Papanicolaou tests. The mean age of patients was 35 years, with a range of 75 years (12 to 87 years). Respondents were predominantly black (63.2%), 39.2% were single, and over 65% had incomes no greater than $15,000/y.
Main outcome measure: The outcome measure of condom use is reported. Data analysis of patients' sexual behavior revealed that older women might be at risk for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The hypothesis that condom use is related to age emerged during data collection.
Results: Condom use is related to being younger (< 31 years), having had an STD, having a sexual partner in whom an STD was diagnosed, having a lower income, or being single or black. In multivariate models, marital status (single), age (< 31 years), and having a partner with an STD remain significant. Among unmarried women, the effects of age, race, and a partner with STD remain, and being a nonsmoker is also significant. In the multivariate analysis for unmarried women, only age (< 31 years) is significantly related to condom use. An independent random sample of charts revealed that almost 45% of the patients aged 45 years or younger received condom counseling, whereas condoms were discussed with none of those older than 45 years.
Conclusions: Because older patients (those beyond child-bearing years) are less likely to use condoms and evidently receive little education about condom use, older patients must be educated about the need for condoms.