Promoting teenage sexual health: an investigation into the knowledge, activities and perceptions of gynaecology nurses
Aim. This study was designed to investigate the teenage sexual health service provided by gynaecology nurses at Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham, United Kingdom (UK), by assessing their knowledge, activities and perceptions in relation to teenage sexual health.
Background. Part of a gynaecology nurse’s work is caring for teenagers with sexual health problems, including unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Given the current national focus in the UK on improving teenage sexual health, there is clearly a role for gynaecology nurses to play, but this is rarely referred to in published literature and appears to be poorly defined.
Method. A cross sectional survey of all gynaecology nurses at Queen’s Medical Centre was carried out, followed by semi-structured interviews with a small random subsample.
Findings. Results indicated that, although 65% of nurses had worked on the gynaecology unit for more than 5 years, there was poor knowledge, an inconsistent pattern of nursing interventions and negative perceptions of the service offered. A majority of the nurses (87%) had not received any specific training in how to nurse teenagers with sexual health problems and 65% considered that the quality of sexual health service offered to teenagers was poor. Unexpected findings included poor general knowledge of local teenage sexual health services, the emotional effect on some nurses caring for young teenagers undergoing medical terminations of pregnancy (ToP), and the complete lack of training and protocols for taking a sexual history.
Conclusions. The nurses felt that the teenage sexual health service provided could be improved by better staff training, better information for teenagers and better organization. Recommendations have been made as a result of the study but the staff will need management support to ensure that changes are effective. Generalizations cannot be drawn from a study in one hospital but the results could reflect the low profile given to the teenage sexual health aspect of gynaecology nurses’ work in the UK.