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December 2, 1992


JAMA. 1992;268(21):3141-3147. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490210129056

Sexuality in the Patient-Physician Relationship The Bottom Line

Sexuality in the Patient-Physician Relationship  Kathy Zoppi, MPHDepartment of Family Practice, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, MichSexual feelings occur all the time. We commonly feel fleeting attractions to people on the street or to friends after sharing confidences, to physicians who care for us or to patients in our care. Although sexual feelings between patients and physicians are normal, they can threaten the physician's professional identity and the therapeutic relationship.In a recent survey1 of physicians practicing in the Netherlands, more than 80% of respondents acknowledged feeling sexually attracted to patients at some point, and 4% reported actual sexual contact. In a survey2 of US physicians, 9% reported having had sexual contact with a patient, and 25% reported treating patients who had previously had sexual contact with other physicians. The incidence of sexual contact is probably underreported. Sexual