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Barriers to sexual expression in residential aged care facilities (RACFs): comparison of staff and residents' views

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Abstract

Aim

To explore and compare the views of both staff and residents about barriers to sexual expression in residential aged care facilities.

Background

Although remaining sexually active in older age helps to preserve and promote well-being, the percentage of sexually active persons living in residential aged care facilities is low. Previous research has identified several barriers to sexual expression in such settings. Most of this research has focused on staff perceptions, neglecting the residents' perspective.

Design

A qualitative descriptive study.

Methods

Fifty-three staff members and 47 older people living in five residential aged care facilities were interviewed. They were asked about barriers to sexual expression in residential settings. Data were analysed using content analysis, aimed at identifying common ideas in the responses. Data were collected over 7 months in 2012.

Results

About 40% of the residents subsample did not identify any barrier to sexual expression, although all other participants identified at least one. The most oft-cited barriers were lack of privacy, residents' attitudes and lack of communication about sexuality.

Conclusion

A substantial number of residents were unable to identify or mention barriers to sexual expression. Generational factors and group pressure could affect residents' attitudes towards sexuality.

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