Moving beyond the therapeutic relationship: a selective review of intimacy in the sexual health encounter in nursing practice

Authors

  • Leah East BN, PhD, RN,

    Senior Lecturer, Corresponding author
    1. School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW, Australia
    • Correspondence: Leah East, School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia. Telephone: +61 2 6620 36646.

      E-mail: leah.east@scu.edu.au

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  • Marie Hutchinson PhD, RN, RM

    Senior Lecturer
    1. School of Health and Human Sciences, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW, Australia
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Abstract

Aims and objectives

For the purposes of this study, a selective review of the literature was undertaken with the aim of examining nurses' preparedness to engage in intimate interactions within the context of sexual health care. Kirk's (2007) model of interactional intimacy is used as a lens to examine the literature.

Background

The provision of sexual health care is often a neglected area of nursing care despite being recognised as a component of holistic nursing practice. Despite theoretical discussion about various forms of intimacy and intimate care, there has been little examination of the interface between intimacy and sexual health care that usefully informs practice.

Design

Selective review and synthesis of the literature.

Conclusion

The literature of humanistic interpretations of caring that has dominated nursing discourse over the last half-century has limited progress on defining and developing forms of clinical interaction that are suited to promoting nurses engagement in sexual health care. We propose that Kirk's model has useful utility in preparing nurses to engage more readily with sexual health care as a routine component of their practice.

Relevance to clinical practice

Sexual health adversity can often accompany ill health, and therefore, the provision of appropriate care is required to negate detrimental outcomes and promote positive well-being. Although sexual health care is often not prioritised in practice, nurses are in a prime position to promote sexual health care and well-being. By conducting sexual health assessments and providing sexual health care routinely, the gap that exists between patients' sexual healthcare needs and the lack of sexual health care provided can be minimised.

Ancillary