Aim. This paper reports a study of male nurses’ experiences of providing intimate care for women clients.
Background. The number of men entering the nursing profession has increased worldwide. As a consequence of the move to a more gender-balanced profession, debate has ensued over how intimate care should be performed when this requires male nurses to be physically close to women clients. As there was little previous work on this topic, we wished to provide nurses, clients and other healthcare professionals with a better understanding of male nurses’ experiences of working with women clients and within a healthcare system where they often feel excluded.
Method. Semi-structured, open-ended interviews were conducted with male nurses working in various clinical settings in Western Australia. Latent content analysis was used to analyse the interviews, which were carried out between June and July 2004.
Findings. Three themes were identified: the definition of intimate care, the emotional experience associated with providing intimate care and strategies used to assist in the delivery of intimate care for women clients. Providing intimate care for women clients was a challenging experience for male nurses. Participants described how it required them to invade these clients’ personal space. Consequently, they often experienced various negative feelings and used several strategies to assist them during care delivery.
Conclusions. Nurse educators should assist male nurses to be better prepared to interact with women clients in various settings. Furthermore, workplace environments need to provide additional support and guidance for male nurses to enable them to develop effective coping strategies to manage challenging situations.