Sexuality as part of rehabilitation? A qualitative study on the perceptions of rehabilitation nurses on discussing patient sexuality during clinical rehabilitation

PASCUAL, April
WIGHMAN, Amber
LITTOOIJ, Elsbeth C
JANSSEN, Thomas W
Publication Date 
February 2021
9 pp

Introduction: Spinal cord injury may seriously affect sexual health and sexuality, which can lead to lower self-esteem, social isolation, lower quality of life, and an increased risk of depression. Nurses play an extensive role in providing patient education. However, a gap between the patients’ need for information and the lack of information provided by nurses still exists. Therefore, knowledge about barriers and facilitators regarding discussing patient sexuality is necessary.

 

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 nurses working in Spinal Cord Injury rehabilitation in one clinic in the Netherlands. The following themes were discussed during the interviews: (1) attitude, (2) social factors, (3) affect, (4) habits and (5) facilitating conditions.

 

Results: Addressing patient sexuality was difficult due to the nurses’ attitude and their environment. Sexuality was considered important but respondents were reserved to discuss the topic due to taboo, lack of knowledge, and common preconceptions. Participants expressed the need for education, a clear job description, time and privacy.

 

Conclusion: Nurses consider discussing patient sexuality as important but are hindered due to multiple factors. Organizational efforts targeted at knowledge expansion are needed to break the taboo and remove preconceptions. Nurses should provide opportunities to discuss the subject to intercept sexuality-related problems.

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