• acquired physical disability;
  • education;
  • interdisciplinary;
  • Ireland;
  • nursing;
  • sexuality

higgins a., sharek d., nolan m., sheerin b., flanagan p., slaicuinaite s., mc donnell s. & walsh h. (2012) Mixed methods evaluation of an interdisciplinary sexuality education programme for staff working with people who have an acquired physical disability. Journal of Advanced Nursing68(11), 2559–2569.


Aim.  To report a study evaluating the effectiveness of a 1-day interdisciplinary sexuality education programme for staff working with people with acquired physical disability.

Background.  Changes associated with an acquired physical disability can diminish a person’s self-esteem, sense of attractiveness, relationships, and sexual functioning. Research suggests that people are dissatisfied with the quality of information and support around sexuality during their rehabilitation.

Design.  A mixed methods design was used, involving pretest and posttest questionnaires and interviews.

Methods. Questionnaire data were analysed using descriptive statistics and paired samples t-tests to evaluate the effects of the programme on knowledge, skills, and comfort. Interview data were analyzed thematically, with particular emphasis on participants’ opinions about the application of the course within practice. Participants were working in the area of acquired disability and rehabilitation, and were drawn from a number of disciplines. Data were collected between 2008–2009.

Results.  Comparison of the pre- and postmeasures, based on paired samples t-tests, showed that the programme statistically significantly increased participants’ knowledge, skills, and comfort. Participants felt positive and enthusiastic about the programme and reported numerous incidents where they were more willing to raise issues for discussion and create a supportive listening space for patients to talk about their concerns around sexuality.

Conclusion.  Providing healthcare practitioners with a 1-day programme leads to positive changes in knowledge, skills, and comfort towards sexuality. Sexuality education may be an ideal topic for bringing practitioners together within an interdisciplinary education context.