Self-reported data on sexuality diverges from direct interview data

January 01, 0001

Self-reported data on sexuality diverges from direct interview data

Postmenopausal women are often hesitant to discuss their sexual attitudes and experiences surrounding sexuality with her doctors. Sociocultural, ethnic, and medical background may affect the attitude towards menopause and the expectations regarding sexuality in these women. The aim of this study by researchers from Barcelona was to describe communication about sex between patients and doctors and its relation to extrinsic limiting factors. A total of 2,332 women between 45 and 64 years old were involved in this cross-sectional survey. The study used an ad hoc anonymous questionnaire covering the demographic and reproductive variables as well as the data related to sexual activity. The Cervantes questionnaire was administered by direct interview to determine the impact of sexuality on health-related quality of life.

The percentage of women who recognized having occasional or unconventional partners was twofold higher in the anonymous questionnaire than in the clinical interview. In the medical interview only 15.2% of women recognized that sexuality was not very important compared, significantly, with more than 40% in the anonymous questionnaire. The highest concordance between the anonymous questionnaire and the clinical interview was in women who referred to not having any sexual relationship at all (88.07%) whereas in the other conditions concordance was significantly lower.

The researchers concluded: "Self-reported data on sexuality diverge from those derived from a direct interview. The proportion of women with low interest in sexuality was higher in the blind questionnaires."

For many years there have been reports that patients double their sexual activity frequency and halve their alcohol intake. Here we have women appearing to underreporting less importance in sexuality in interview (which fits the old theory) as well as having occasional or unconventional partners (which doesn’t, yet makes sense). Sexual histories can be very inaccurate, yet questionnaires may be also.

For the full abstract, click here.

Journal of Sexual Medicine published online13 Nov 2009
© 2010 International Society for Sexual Medicine
Do Patients Lie? An Open Interview vs. a Blind Questionnaire on Sexuality. Camil Castelo-Branco, Santiago Palacios, MD, Javier Ferrer- Barriendos, Xavier Alberich and the Cervantes Study Group.

Category: HSR. Health Services Research. Keywords: sexuality, interviews, open questionnaires, anonymity, quality of life, cross sectional survey, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 19 February 2010

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