General practitioner views about discussing sexual issues with patients with coronary heart disease: a national survey in Ireland.
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BACKGROUND: Sexual problems are common among people with coronary heart disease and can adversely affect patients' quality of life. GPs are ideally placed to deal with these problems. Research suggests that GPs are reluctant to address sexual problems but little is known about what currently takes place in practice. The aim of this study was to examine GPs' self-reported behaviour and attitudes to discussing sexual problems with people with coronary heart disease.
METHOD: Design: A cross-sectional survey which administered 230 postal questionnaires to a nationally representative, stratified random sample of GPs in the Republic of Ireland. GPs were asked about current practice, knowledge, awareness and confidence in dealing with sexual problems, barriers to addressing sexual problems, and about improving services in this area.
RESULTS: Responses were available for 61 GPs (27% response rate). Seventy percent of GPs reported that they rarely or never discussed sexual problems with coronary patients. While all GPs believed addressing sexual problems was important, many GPs reported lacking awareness, knowledge and confidence in addressing sexual problems. The main barriers were lack of time, feeling the patient wasn't ready and lack of training in the area. GPs wanted more training and guidelines for practice.
CONCLUSIONS: There is currently no standardised protocol for GPs for dealing with sexual problems among coronary patients. Awareness of these issues appears to be low among GPs. Services could be improved by developing practice guidelines for brief, effective actions or assessments, providing training in the area and improving information resources and support services for referral.