The use of chaperones in general practice: Is this just a ‘Western’ concept?
© 2014, © The Author(s) 2014. Background The literature about medical chaperones in primary care is limited to a handful of English-speaking countries. It remains largely unknown to what extent chaperones are offered (and used) outside the published literature. Objective The current study aimed to explore the attitudes and experiences of a group of general practitioners (GPs; family doctors) attending an international primary care conference regarding their use of medical chaperones. Methods Ninety international GPs completed a validated questionnaire, providing information on their current practice, availability and preferred choice of chaperone. Participants expressed their opinion on the importance of, and facilitators and barriers for chaperone use. Results Although most participants had knowledge of the term ‘medical chaperone’ (75%), those with a qualification from Europe (other than the UK) were less likely to offer a chaperone. Two-thirds of all participants would consider offering a chaperone and were more likely to work in the public sector (p =.04; Cramér’s V = 0.27). A practice nurse was most commonly used as chaperone. Chaperone users ranked the ‘medico-legal protection of doctors’, ‘doctors’ professional practice’ and ‘protection of patients’ as the most important factors for using a chaperone. Non-users reported ‘personal choice of the doctor’, ‘confidentiality’ and ‘impact on the doctor–patient relationship’ as the main areas influencing their decision not to use a chaperone. Conclusion International doctors hold different views about the use (or not) of chaperones within their clinical practice and its effect on the doctor–patient consultation. Further research is needed to tease out the reasons for this.