Psychosocial Factors

Circumcision Policy Influenced by Psychosocial Factors

The debate about the advisability of circumcision in English-speaking countries typically has focused on potential health factors. The position statements of committees from national medical organizations are expected to be evidence-based; however, the contentiousness of the ongoing debate suggests that other factors are involved. Various potential factors related to psychology, sociology, religion, and culture may also underlie policy decisions. These factors could affect the values and attitudes of medical committee members, the process of evaluating the medical literature, and the medical literature itself. Although medical professionals highly value rationality, it can be difficult to conduct a rational and objective evaluation of an emotional and controversial topic such as circumcision. A negotiated compromise between polarized committee factions could introduce additional psychosocial factors. These possibilities are speculative, not conclusive. It is recommended that an open discussion of psychosocial factors take place and that the potential biases of committee members be recognized.

Goldman, R., “Circumcision Policy: A Psychosocial Perspective,” Paediatrics & Child Health 9 (2004): 630-633.