Couple-Friendly Services in a Metropolitan Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic: Views of Clients and Providers
Context: Clients making clinic visits related to reproductive health might benefit from participation with their partner. There is little information available, however, on whether either clients themselves or clinic staff would feel comfortable with such a possibility.
Methods: The Multnomah County Health Department Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic in Portland, Oregon, conducted a survey of 237 new clients in June 1994 to assess clients' and providers' responses to the idea of offering couple visits.
Results: Twenty-six percent of female clients and 16% of male clients were accompanied by their partner on their visit to the clinic. Eighty-seven percent of all clients favored the clinic's offering couple visits, 5% opposed the concept and 8% were undecided. Fifty-four percent would have wanted their partner to be with them during their present visit if this choice had been offered, and 62% would want their partner to join them in follow-up couple visits if this were recommended by their provider. Seventy-one percent had already discussed with their partner the reason for their immediate clinic visit, and 88% expected to discuss the visit with their partner afterward. Attitudes toward couple services were similar for male and female clients and did not vary by race or ethnicity. For more than one-fifth of clients, clinic staff reported that they would not recommend couple visits; however, many of these clients reported that they would prefer being accompanied by their partner.
Conclusions: Appropriately designed couple-friendly options are likely to be generally accepted and moderately utilized by clients of varying backgrounds. Clinic staff may be more reluctant to involve clients' partners than the clients are themselves, however.
Family Planning Perspectives, 1999, 31(4):195-199