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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 110-114

Patients attitudes to vaginal examination and use of chaperones at a public hospital in South Africa


1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, King Edward Hospital, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Women's Health and HIV Research Group, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Inkosi Albert Luthuli central Hospital, University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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O U Amaechina
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1119-3077.173713

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Background: Obstetrics and gynecology units in public hospitals in South Africa (SA) are often overloaded with patients. Most physical examinations/consultations in these units involve vaginal examination (VE) and often because of the rapid turnover of patients the pelvic examination may be performed hurriedly without due consideration being given to the psychosocial aspects of such procedures. Objective: This study surveyed the attitudes of patients to VE and the use of chaperones. Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional survey of patients attending obstetrics and gynecology clinics at a public hospital in SA was carried out. A structured questionnaire was used to collect sociodemographic data such as age, ethnic group, gravidity, feelings toward VE, and preferences about the gender of the examining doctor, as well as the presence of a chaperone. Results: Most women (68%) were aged between 20 and 35 years. The respondents stated that the most intimate examination was VE in 48.3% and abdominal in 25% of cases; 19.0% and 1.5% of respondents felt that breast and rectal examinations, respectively, was the most intimate. On the response to the statement “there is no need for chaperone during VE;” 54% of the participants were in support of chaperone while 45.1% were against chaperone. Women aged 20–35 years, preferred a nurse as their chaperone; younger women, aged ≤19 years preferred their mother as a chaperone. Conclusion: In an SA public hospital, women are more likely to regard VE as the most intimate examination. Women are equivocal on the use of a chaperone and if it was necessary; nurses are their preferred choice except for teenagers, who preferred their mothers.


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