Medical Embarrassment questionnaires (MEQ)


Medical embarrassment is a common experience that can have a significant impact on people’s health. It can lead to people delaying or avoiding seeking medical care, which can have serious consequences for their health.

There are a number of different ways to measure medical embarrassment. One common method is to use a questionnaire. Medical embarrassment questionnaires (MEQs) are a type of self-report questionnaire that asks people about their experiences with medical embarrassment.

History of MEQs

The first MEQ was developed in the early 1980s by researchers at the University of Michigan. The questionnaire was designed to measure people’s experiences with medical embarrassment in a variety of settings, including doctor’s offices, hospitals, and clinics.

Since the development of the first MEQ, a number of other MEQs have been developed. These questionnaires have been used to study medical embarrassment in a variety of populations, including adults, adolescents, and children.

Related Characteristics of MEQs

MEQs typically measure a variety of different aspects of medical embarrassment, including:

  • The frequency of medical embarrassment
  • The severity of medical embarrassment
  • The impact of medical embarrassment on people’s health
  • The factors that contribute to medical embarrassment

Academic Studies about MEQs

MEQs have been used in a number of academic studies to investigate the nature and impact of medical embarrassment. Some of the findings from these studies include:

  • Medical embarrassment is a common experience. Studies have found that up to 80% of people experience medical embarrassment at some point in their lives.
  • Medical embarrassment can have a significant impact on people’s health. Studies have found that medical embarrassment can lead to people delaying or avoiding seeking medical care, which can have serious consequences for their health.
  • There are a number of factors that can contribute to medical embarrassment, including:
    • The nature of the medical condition
    • The social context of the medical encounter
    • The patient’s personality
    • The patient’s cultural background

Other Related Terms

  • Health literacy: Health literacy is the ability to understand and use health information. People with low health literacy are more likely to experience medical embarrassment.
  • Social desirability bias: Social desirability bias is the tendency to answer questions in a way that is perceived to be socially desirable. Social desirability bias can lead to people underreporting their experiences with medical embarrassment.

Medical Embarrassmentquestionnaires(MEQ)
Consedine et al‚ 2007
1.    Showing my body to a stranger‚ even to a doctor‚ is humiliating
2.    I am uncomfortable when a doctor has to examine my sexual organs or rectum because I worry about my own cleanliness
3.    I feel shy when I have to describe my bodily functions to a doctor or a nurse
4.    If I get sick I tend to hide from others‚ even from close people‚ because I am embarrassed to be sick or ill
5.    I worry that my body looks unpleasant and will disgust the doctor or a nurse during a check-up
6.    Walking in the waiting area with a urine sample is humiliating
7.    When I have health symptoms‚ I avoid the doctor because I worry that my concerns will turn out to be nothing
8.    I feel embarrassed when doctors use complicated medical words and I don’t understand them
9.    I am afraid that I will embarrass myself if something hurts in the doctor’s office
10.I worry that doctors will scold me for the bad state of my health
11.It is embarrassing for me when a doctor or a nurse has to touch me
12.ha‎ving my sexual/reproductive organs or rectum examined is humiliating for me
13.Describing my bowel movements to a doctor is awkward for me
14.I feel I must have done something wrong when I am ill
15.It is embarrassing for me when a doctor examines my body
16.I find waiting for treatment in a public area embarrassing
17.Minor pains‚ aches‚ or discomforts are not a good enough reason to go bothering a doctor
18.When a doctor describes some medical options and I don’t understand‚ I feel humiliated
19.It is embarrassing for me to admit that I fear pain
20.I avoid going to the doctor because I often wait too long and feel awkward knowing that I should have gone sooner
21.I am generally comfortable showing my body to a doctor
22.ha‎ving my breasts/vagina (F) or penis (M) examined by a medical professional does not bother me
23.Talking with a doctor about how frequently I use the bathroom and the nature of my faeces or stool is difficult for me
24.Talking about illness or being sick is not a problem for me
25.Seeing my body during medical examinations makes me feel silly
26.I worry about what other people in the waiting room may think of me
27.Even a minor symptom makes me feel that I should go to a doctor because I think that it could be a sign of something serious
28.I would never disobey a doctor’s recommendation just because the procedure is possibly painful
29.I am embarrassed about the condition that I have let my body get to
30.Being naked in front of the doctor or a nurse is embarrassing
31.It is embarrassing for me when a doctor who is not of my sex touches my sexual/reproductive organs during examination
32.Describing the colour or consistency of my stool to a doctor is exceptionally embarrassing for me
33.I feel self-conscious when others know that I am in poor health
34.I do not find it embarrassing to see acquaintances and friends in the doctor’s office
35.I only go to the doctor when I am very sick‚ because I worry that they will think I am faking it
36.I find it difficult to ask a doctor to explain something again‚ repeat themselves‚ or use words that I can understand
37.I am very comfortable telling a doctor that something hurts
38.I am comfortable when a doctor tells me that I am not looking after myself
39.Exposing just about any part of my body for a check up is awkward
40.I feel degraded when I have to show my sexual and reproductive organs or rectum to a doctor
41.The thought that a doctor might ask for stool or urine samples is humiliating for me
42.I worry that other people will judge me when I’m sick
43.I feel self-conscious and fear that other people may overhear discussions about my health
44.I feel shy showing my body to doctors
45.It is awkward for me to describe medical symptoms when they involve my private parts
46.I don’t want a doctor or nurse to think that I am one of those people who constantly complain about their health
47.I feel stupid when a doctor tells me that my symptoms are not as serious as I thought they were
48.I worry that the doctor is going to criticize some of the unhealthy things that I do
49.ha‎ving my body touched during medical check ups is not a problem for me
50.I worry about what doctors are thinking when they examine my genitals
51.Answering questions about my bodily fluids (e.g. describing the colour of my mucus) makes me self-conscious
52.I worry that doctors will think I’m silly if I come in with a minor complaint
53.I fear that the doctor will think badly of me because my own behaviours probably contributed to my health problems
 ‘R’ item indicates a reverse-coded
Bodily embarrassment and judgment concern
1 (Not at all/never) to 5 (Very much/always) scale
A priori‚ items were grouped into nine potentially separable categories of embarrassment (note: an ‘R’ item indicates a reverse-coded item): about the body (items1‚ 5‚ 11‚ 15‚ 21R‚ 25‚ 30‚ 39‚ 44‚ 49R)‚ about genital examinations (items 2‚ 12‚ 22R‚ 31‚40‚ 45‚ 50)‚ bodily functions (items 3‚ 13‚ 23‚ 32‚ 41‚ 51)‚ about being ill (items 4‚ 14‚24R‚ 33‚ 42)‚ about the public exposure associated with medical visits (items 6‚ 16‚ 26‚34R‚ 43)‚ about being viewed as a hypochondriac (items 7‚ 17‚ 27R‚ 35‚ 46‚ 52)‚ about feeling intellectually inadequate (items 8‚ 18‚ 36‚ 47)‚ about being embarrassed by pain (items 9‚ 19‚ 28R‚ 37R) and about not taking care of one’s health (items 10‚ 20‚ 29‚38R‚ 48‚ 53). (Consedine et al‚ 2007)

Consedine‚ Nathan S.‚ Krivoshekova‚ Yulia S. and Harris‚ Christine R. (2007). Bodily embarrassment and judgment concern as separable factors in the measurement of medical embarrassment: Psychometric development and links to treatment-seeking outcomes. British Journal of Health Psychology‚ 12(3)‚ 439–462.

Consedine‚ N. S.‚ Ladwig‚ I.‚ Reddig‚ M. K.‚ & Broadbent‚ E. A. (2011). The many faeces of colorectal cancer screening embarrassment: Preliminary psychometric development and links to screening outcome. British Journal of Health Psychology‚ 16‚ 559-579.