Comment on: Higgins A., Sharek D., Nolan M., Sheerin B., Flanagan P., Slaicuinaite 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 Nursing 68(11), 238238.


‘Mixed methods evaluation of an interdisciplinary sexuality education programme for staff working with people who have an acquired physical disability’ was an article which focuses on working with professional healthcare workers and their approach to their patients on sexuality (Higgins et al. 2012). It is good that there are people doing research and helping clinicians with this topic; I commend you all. Working at a hospital and knowing many other healthcare professionals, it is a common issue that is usually never discussed.

Due to this lack of discussion there is often wrong information passed around, clinicians feel uncomfortable bringing the sensitive topic of sexuality up, and patients do not know how to ask for the information themselves. I have heard stories from nurses who have been asked questions involving sexuality after a patient had a debilitating accident without any idea about what to tell them or who to go to for information. Often this is also a result of the practitioners' never having anyone discussing sexuality with them growing up (Fields 2012). It is an international issue.

Using an interdisciplinary team is a good way to develop a well-rounded plan. Although, I believe a sexuality educator should have been consulted on the subject. I would also have asked a physical therapist to join the team and an occupational therapist. If you had to choose between the two, a physical therapist knows about the entire body and can help focus on pelvic floor muscles. Between a physical therapist and a sexuality educator, the rehabilitation that would be required of most patients, a multitude of resources, and a variety of activities could have been planned and presented. Having an experienced sex educator would also prevent the possible shying away from uncomfortable topics in sexuality, like lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer-oriented individuals (Fields 2012) or non-monogamous relationships.

Another model that could be implemented is a conflict resolution-exploration of feelings model. This is when the presenter poses a conflict that is not comfortable or easy to discuss. The participants then take the conflict apart and talk about the issue at hand trying to resolve it while exploring their own feelings (Estes et al. 2011). This can also be done in a role play.

I am glad that the article acknowledges the shortcomings in sample size. I would have also liked to know what types of activities were used and the topics that were covered to help the participants understand the patients' point of view. Nevertheless, this was a great beginning to help pave the way for studies to come.