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J R Soc Med. 2000 November; 93(11): 563–564.
PMCID: PMC1298145

General practitioners' attitudes to sexual activity in under-sixteens.


In the UK, under-sixteen-year-olds with some exceptions can be provided with contraceptive care even if unwilling to inform their parents. Nonetheless, many teenagers express doubts about confidentiality in these circumstances, as well as fear of being judged. The attitudes of general practitioners in North and East Devon towards the Gillick ruling regarding the treatment of under sixteens for sexual health matters were assessed. They were asked to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with a series of statements. 235 (73%) responded, and only 15 (6.5%) rejected the notion that the same duty of confidentiality applies to under-sixteens as to older patients. 76% did, however, prefer parents to know they had been consulted about contraception. Only 7 GPs believed that provision of contraception encourages under-age sex. Despite GPs' general acknowledgment of the importance of confidentiality in relation to sexual activity, teenagers may well be discouraged from seeking advice if they expect strong pressure to tell their parents.

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Selected References

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