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Clinical ethics
Medical chaperoning at a tertiary care hospital in Saudi Arabia: survey of physicians
  1. E A Al-Gaai,
  2. M M Hammami
  1. Centre for Clinical Studies and Empirical Ethics, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  1. Correspondence to Dr M Hammami, Centre for Clinical Studies and Empirical Ethics (CCSEE), King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, PO Box 3354 (MBC 03), Riyadh 11211, Saudi Arabia; muhammad{at}


Background: Medical chaperones (MC) are underutilised. The influence of Islamic culture on the use of MC is not known.

Aim: To examine physicians’ use and perception of MC in Islamic culture.

Setting: A major tertiary care hospital in Saudi Arabia.

Methods: 315 self-administered questionnaires were distributed to attendees of grand rounds of 13 departments.

Results: 186 (59%) questionnaires were completed. 64.5% of the respondents were 30–49 years old, 75.8% were men and 31.2% were in training; 79% had a clinic load of under 50 patients per week and 47.8% had postgraduate training (PGT) in an Islamic country. MC were reported to be infrequently (⩽25% of the time) used by 44.1% (69.2% female vs 39% male physicians, p = 0.001; 58.6% in training vs 36.8% attending, p = 0.007; 52.1% PGT in Islamic vs 35.6% in western countries, p = 0.027), offered by 52.7% (78.9% female vs 46.8% male physicians, p<0.001) and requested by 79% of patients. MC were reported to be commonly (>75% of the time) used, offered by physicians and requested by patients by 38.2%, 29% and 7.5% of respondents, respectively. The most frequently cited reasons for not using MC were privacy/confidentiality (36.6%) and understaffing (30.5%). Equal numbers of respondents perceived MC use as a protection for physicians or patients (67.7% and 65.6%, respectively).

Conclusions: MC are underutilised even in Islamic culture, especially among female physicians. Training in western countries is favourably associated with MC use. Underutilisation appears to be related to privacy/confidentiality, understaffing and failure of patients to request a MC.

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  • ▸ Additional supplementary material in appendix A is published online only at

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was granted by the Research Ethics Committee, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

  • Contributors: EAAG and MMH jointly conceived the study and analysed the results, and will act as guarantors. EAAG collected the data and wrote the first draft.

  • Provenance and Peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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