Do False Beliefs Predict Increased Circumcision Satisfaction in Men?
Advances in Sexual Medicine
Medical male circumcision has been adopted by the WHO, and other professional public health and medical bodies, as a vital weapon in the fight against HIV. This has prompted a large body of research into the acceptability of the procedure, attitudes to it, and barriers to it. A systematic review of these studies found that satisfaction with circumcision is strongly associated with having accurate knowledge about it. A survey-based paper by Earp, Sardi and Jellison entitled "False beliefs
... alse beliefs predict increased circumcision satisfaction in a sample of US American men" is the only one to find the opposite. It therefore merits scrutiny. The present article presents the results of a critical examination of the study. Serious flaws were discovered. Half of the small number of 10 "true/false" statements used in its survey are questionable. All the large body of literature that contradicts the findings of Earp and co-workers is ignored. Importantly, the crucial question about whether dissatisfied circumcised males hold false beliefs about circumcision is not considered. Unlike most of the research on the acceptability of circumcision, the study is not motivated by a desire to evaluate the likely effectiveness of a public health measure, or how best to implement it. Rather it appears to be an attempt by a prominent anti-circumcision activist and his associates to generate a body of literature that they can then cite to further their cause. Considering this, and the serious flaws it contains, the study should be dismissed as misleading, biased and undermining public health.