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Abstract

Nurses working in a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic for children with myelomeningocele desired to learn more about parents' ideas and needs in the area of sex education. Private interviews were conducted with 52 parents, using a structured interview guide. Mothers were seen as the main sex educator for girls, whereas both parents were seen as sex educators for boys. Sixty percent of the parents believed that sex education should begin during the school-age years. Lack of adequate knowledge about their child's potential for sexual functioning was perceived by all parents. Parents' responses indicated a need for clinic staff to “open the door” to discussing sexuality and a need for realistic guidance about their child's sexual potential. Parents indicated that they saw the referral hospital as a more helpful resource than local resource persons, and selected means by which they and their children might learn more about sexuality from clinic staff. Based on information gathered in the study, clinic staff can plan a teaching and counseling program to help parents become more effective sex educators.