Chris Quinn, RN, EMHN, DAS (Nurs), Cert PN, Grad Dip (MHN).
Talking or avoiding? Mental health nurses' views about discussing sexual health with consumers
Article first published online: 4 JAN 2011
© 2011 The Authors. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing © 2011 Australian College of Mental Health Nurses Inc.
International Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Volume 20, Issue 1, pages 21–28, February 2011
How to Cite
Quinn, C., Happell, B. and Browne, G. (2011), Talking or avoiding? Mental health nurses' views about discussing sexual health with consumers. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 20: 21–28. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0349.2010.00705.x
Brenda Happell, RN, RPN, BA (Hons), Dip Ed, BEd, MEd, PhD.
- Issue published online: 4 JAN 2011
- Article first published online: 4 JAN 2011
- Accepted July 2010.
- mental health;
Mental health consumers are sexual beings; however, their sexual desire, capacity, and ability to maintain previous sexual patterns can be altered by their illness or by the effects and side-effects of medications. The sexuality of consumers has been poorly addressed, and the limited evidence suggests that mental health nurses remain ambivalent to including sexuality in their care. This paper presents the findings of a research project investigating the practices of mental health nurses in assessing and supporting the sexuality of consumers. A qualitative, exploratory approach underpinned individual interviews with 14 mental health nurses from inpatient and community settings. The participants acknowledged the importance of sexuality; however, most were reluctant to enquire about consumer concerns and tended to either ignore the issue or refer it to another clinician. Four themes were identified: talking about or avoiding sexuality concerns with consumers; sexuality is not an important priority; refer to others, as talking about sexuality is not ‘my’ job; and sexuality is poorly addressed by others. It is important that barriers to the assessment and discussion of sexuality are identified, and measures are taken to overcome them.