'Doctors not comfortable talking sex with teen patients'

New York, Jan 4 (IANS): There is very little conversation between doctors and teenage patients about sex and related issues and when they did talk, it lasted for a mere 36 seconds on an average.

Worst, doctors of Asian descent were 90 percent less likely than other physicians to talk about sex-related issues with their patients, said a new study.

“For teens who are trying to understand sex and sexuality, not talking about sex could have huge implications,” stressed lead author Stewart Alexander, associate professor of medicine at Duke University.

Researchers analysed the audio recordings of 253 adolescents between age 12-17 who visited doctors.

They found that the physicians discussed sex in only 65 percent of the visits with the conversations lasting an average of 36 seconds.

In the other 35 percent of visits, the topic of sex wasn’t brought up at all, said the study published in the "JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Pediatrics".

“Girls were more than twice as likely as boys to have longer talks about sex. This may be because doctors see girls as more vulnerable to the consequences of sex, especially pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections,” explained the researchers.

"It's hard for physicians to treat adolescents and help them make healthy choices about sex if they don't have these conversations," warned Alexander.

For the purposes of this study, the research team considered “sexuality talk” to be “any comment, question, or discussion related to sexual activity, sexuality, dating or sexual identity”.

The researchers also fould that the older the patients, the greater the odds that his or her doctor would bring up the subject of sex. For each additional year of age, the odds rose by 49 percent, the study found.

Doctors can’t simply wait for their patients to initiate a discussion about sex and they must be proactive in addressing sexuality issues with adolescents, the study concluded.


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