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How do you broach sexual health issues with patients?

  • Comments (1)
  • Article: Bates J (2011) Broaching sexual health issues with patients. Nursing Times; 107: 48, 20-22.
  • Author: Joanne Bates is senior lecturer, Department of Midwifery and Reproductive Health, University of Chester, Chester.

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Key points

  1. Consider patients’ sexual health needs as part of a holistic approach to care
  2. Be aware of your own assumptions, beliefs and values
  3. Use neutral language such as “your partner”
  4. Consider using the Ex-PLISSIT model of intervention to help open up discussions about sexual health with patients
  5. Refer patients on for expert help if necessary

Let’s discuss

Think about your own attitudes towards sexual health and your patients and consider:

  • Do you find it difficult to talk about sex? If so, think about why.
  • Do you assume your patients are heterosexual?
  • Do you make assumptions about the sexual behaviour of your patients? For example, do you think that because they have a long-term illness they are not interested in expressing their sexuality or in having sexual contact?
  • If you know a patient’s sexuality, do you make assumptions about how they behave?
  • Do you currently consider your patients’ sexuality and/or sexual health needs and if so how?


  • Comments (1)

Readers' comments (1)

  • Anonymous

    I think sexual activety is personal and private and unless it seriously affects the patients state of mind or health, then it is not our business to pry. If help or advice needed-refer to the experts. Let's keep sex and sexualtiy between the two people concerned so that it remains a special intimate experience for each other with no prying eyes or questions

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