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In memory of John Tomlinson

September 30th, 2012

Dr Petra

Over the summer I was saddened to learn of the death of John Tomlinson. John was an inspiration to so many working in the area of sex and relationships health for his dedicated work on patient communication, medical education and psychosexual wellbeing.

He commissioned and wrote the ABC of Sexual Health for the British Medical Journal. Which has become a template for training practitioners in tackling sensitive subjects and been responsible for ensuring medics feel empowered to talk about sexual health and psychosexual issues with their patients. An example of his writing can be found in ‘Taking a sexual history’ that shows John’s trademark calm but thorough tone.

More recently John focused his practice and research on psychosexual functioning, and specifically the well-being of straight, gay and bi men. His work included evaluating medical treatments for erectile dysfunction, noting the issues for men for whom such treatments were not effective. In an era of medicalisation, John was someone speaking pragmatically about what treatments could and could not do for men. Unusually for a practitioner he not only provided care but evaluated this – as you can see in this paper assessing men’s use of a phone and email help service for psychosexual problems. He also applied his research and practice by working with the media, always sharing messages in a calm, sympathetic and actionable way. He had a lovely speaking voice that was reassuring and clear. You can hear us both talking about Viagra here. John was also generous with his time and knowledge. On several occasions when faced with a research question or reader problem (as an Agony Aunt) he happily advised me on what options I could take.

Kevan Wylie has written a touching tribute to John in the Journal of Urology and Men’s Health. John dedicated his time to the Sexual Advice Association who are there to offer people impartial advice on psychosexual problems. It would be a fitting tribute to anyone who knew John personally, or benefitted from his training on sex and relationship health to donate to this very worthy organisation.

Numerous patients and practitioners owe John for his sensible and thoughtful advice, research and care. He will be missed by friends and colleagues alike.

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