BACKGROUND: The objective of this article is to investigate patients' attitudes to the use of chaperones for intimate physical examinations (IPEs) in a sample of Australian general practices. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of adult patients from 13 randomly selected general practices in regional New South Wales was conducted between September and November 2012. Generalised linear mixed models were used for analysis. RESULTS: Of 780 surveys distributed, 687 (88%) were returned; the age range was 18-91 years and 356 (52%) were from female patients. Most women had never had a chaperone present for a Papanicolaou (Pap) smear (82.6%). Between 23% and 33% of respondents preferred a chaperone with their usual general practitioner (GP) across IPEs and gender of the respondents. The odds of preference for a chaperone were significantly less with a GP whom the respondents did not know well, compared with their usual GP, for a Pap smear (female) or genital examination (male). DISCUSSION: Individualised discussion regarding chaperone use for IPEs is warranted, especially with patients seeing their usual GP.