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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 626-633

An exploratory study to assess primary care physicians' attitudes toward talking about sexual health with older patients in Trinidad and Tobago

1 Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), London, United Kingdom
2 Public Health and Primary Care Unit, Department of Paraclinical Sciences, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago

Correspondence Address:
Ms. Patrice A Rabathaly
Department of Social and Environmental Health Research, Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), London
United Kingdom
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_325_18

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Background: A good quality sex life and interest in sex are positively associated with health in middle-aged and later life. For effective diagnosis of sexual health problems, an appropriate discussion about sexual health issues including a sexual history is advised. The sexual health care delivery and management during consultations by primary care physicians is relatively unexplored, especially for older patients. This paper aims to explore primary health care physicians' (PCPs) attitudes to sexual health care and management of middle-aged and older patients in Trinidad and Tobago. Methods: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 35 PCPs in Trinidad and Tobago. Topics examined included physician-patient relations, sexual health care management challenges, communication and sexual history taking practices, and training needs of PCPs. The framework analysis method was adopted for analysis. Results: Most doctors stated that they were not comfortable with conducting a sexual history with their older patients, and they rarely discussed or initiated talking about sexual health with them. Barriers included time constraints, inappropriate environmental conditions for privacy, inadequate professional referral services, insufficient medical training in sexual function in middle and old age, reluctant patient behavior, conflicting personal beliefs on sexuality, and socio-cultural factors. Conclusion: PCPs may be reluctant to raise sexual health-related issues with their older patients, and these older patients may not initiate this discussion because of discomfort and embarrassment. Consequently, physicians' inability to effectively communicate with these patients could result in missed opportunities for interventions and patients' concerns may remain unheard and their sexual problems untreated.

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