Medical students and intimate examinations: What affects whether a woman will consent?

Alexander J. Armitage, David J. Cahill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Undergraduate medical students often struggle to gain satisfactory competence levels in intimate examination. What factors increase the likelihood of a woman allowing a student to perform an intimate examination? Methods: Questionnaires were given to women attending a tertiary gynecology hospital. Women were asked a series of questions about what would influence their decision to agree to be examined by a student. Demographic data and data on previous gynaecological history and preferences on any student who might see them in clinic. We asked women to indicate their willingness to agree to vaginal examination (but not to undergo the examination). Results: Age, parity or civil status or the source of the request did not affect willingness to have a vaginal examination. The woman’s hypothetical agreement was positively affected by the student’s gender (female) and age (preferring older students); positively affected by an informal/relaxed manner and smart presentation, and positively by whether the woman had experienced gynecology clinics before. An association existed between being willing to be examined and whether the student had engaged with the woman by finding out what her presenting complaint was. Conclusions: Women’s willingness to agree to vaginal examination is influenced by several student-related factors, some modifiable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Teacher
Early online date31 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2018


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