Objective: To evaluate factors that influence the frequency and quality of sexual health examinations performed by physicians working in Istanbul primary healthcare units and to develop auxiliary strategies based on these factors that would improve sexual healthcare.
Materials and Methods: In this cross-sectional study, a postal questionnaire was administered to a representative group of physicians working in primary healthcare units (i.e., family health centers) in Istanbul between January and February 2007.
Results: The response rate was 84.9%. While 84% of the physicians questioned the history of sexual health in their patients in case of a presence of a sexual health problem, only 8% questioned even if their patients reported any sexual health problems. Major barriers in obtaining a patients sexual health history included language and comprehension problems, lack of time, presence of the patients mother or other relatives during the evaluation, low level of patient education, and strong religious beliefs. Forty-two percent of the responding physicians shared the opinion that their pre-graduate training provided inadequate preparation for sexual health counseling, and 55.1% did not perform such counseling.
Conclusion: Major advancements toward the prevention of sexual disease and improvement of the populations sexual health can be made by emphasizing the importance of sexual health in both pre- and post-graduate medical training, encouraging physicians to routinely ask their patients about their sexual health during examinations, and providing qualified consultancy services in primary healthcare units.