Hong Kong Chinese parents' attitudes towards circumcision

Michael WY Leung, Paula MY Tang, Nicholas SY Chao, Kelvin KW Liu
Division of Paediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Jordan, Hong Kong

OBJECTIVE. To investigate Hong Kong Chinese parents' knowledge and attitudes towards phimosis and circumcision.

DESIGN. Questionnaire survey.

SETTING. Four primary schools in Hong Kong.

PARTICIPANTS. Anonymous questionnaires were sent to Chinese parents of boys, aged 6 to 12 years old, studying in primary school Grades 1 to 6. Their social backgrounds, attitudes and beliefs towards phimosis and circumcision were enquired into.

RESULTS. The parents of 1479 pupils answered the questionnaire, giving a response rate of 95.8%. In all, 10.7% of schoolboys had undergone circumcision, and 11.8% of the fathers were circumcised. Regarding non-circumcised boys, 28.9% of their parents believed that their sons had phimosis and 15.6% believed they would require circumcision later. Among these parents, 57.9% would consider circumcision for their boys in public hospitals, 96.9% thought that public institutions should provide such service, and 82.6% thought that doctors' opinions were most important when deciding about circumcision. Most parents believed that circumcision could prevent balanitis (82.8%) and improve hygiene (81.8%). Significantly more parents from Mainland China and of lower social class believed that circumcision could improve cosmesis, growth of the penis, sexual potency and fertility, and prevent sexually transmitted diseases and penile cancer.

CONCLUSION. Circumcision is not widely practised in Hong Kong. However, it can be a potential burden on surgical services in public hospitals. There are misconceptions concerning phimosis and circumcision, especially in parents from Mainland China and from lower socio-economic classes. Doctors' opinions are the most important factor guiding parental decisions on circumcision. Thus, family physicians' advice and education are important to avoid unnecessary circumcisions.

Hong Kong Med J 2012;18:496-501

Key words: Attitude; Chinese; Circumcision, male; Phimosis

 
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