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Obstetrician-gynecologists' beliefs on the importance of pelvic examinations in assessing hormonal contraception eligibility


Objective To describe obstetrician-gynecologists' beliefs regarding the importance of pelvic examination (including external genitalia inspection, speculum examination, bimanual examination) in assessing hormonal contraception eligibility. Methods In a national probability survey, 1020 obstetrician-gynecologists drawn from the American Medical Association's Physician Masterfile rated importance of the examination in four categories: very, moderately, a little and not important. Results The response rate was 62% (n= 521). Seventy-nine percent considered at least one exam component to be of some importance (very, moderately, or a little importance). Bimanual examination was rated more often than external examination in each level of importance (p<.001). Physicians who believed no component of the examination was important were more likely to be younger, female and in practice settings other than private practice. Conclusions Despite guidelines stating that pelvic examinations are unnecessary in assessing hormonal contraception eligibility, most obstetrician-gynecologists believe that they are of some importance. These attitudes may pose a barrier to contraception provision.

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