Sexual health and adolescents with disabilities: Understanding the experiences and roles of nurses in a hospital setting

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Title: Sexual health and adolescents with disabilities: Understanding the experiences and roles of nurses in a hospital setting
Authors: McCabe, Janet L
Date: 2010
Abstract: Research shows that across a variety of settings, nurses demonstrate a lack of attention to the impact of illness or disability on sexual health. Individuals with disabilities often exhibit lower sexual knowledge, and are at a higher risk of being sexually abused. Unlike their 'able-bodied' peers, the sexual health of youth with disabilities may be overlooked, in part due to preconceived ideas about this population. Nurses enter into a therapeutic relationship with patients and families, and are in an ideal position to promote sexual health with patients and families. This project focused on sexual health care, provided by nurses, to adolescents with physical and/or developmental disabilities, with attention to the institutional and social discourses that shape these interactions. A critical ethnography was employed, supported by a theoretical framework based on the works of Foucault, Goffman, and Shouldered. Interviews were conducted with nurses and social workers. The study involved the collection of mute evidence and an observation of the institutional setting. Results show that nurses were supported and encouraged to address sexual health with youth and families, however they did so within a clinical milieu imbued with opposition - from structural issues, to the presence of larger social misconceptions such as beliefs of the asexuality of people with disabilities. The major findings of this project are that: (1) nurses occupy, and strive to maintain the role of caring agent in their relationships with patients and families; (2) that despite institutional support for the integration of sexual health care, remnants of the total institution remain which undermine the larger agenda to promote sexual health, and finally (3) in order to both maintain therapeutic relationships with patients and address sexual health care, sexual health is often medicalized. These findings point to the importance of continuing to modify the clinical milieu to support nurses in their endeavours to address sexual health. In addition, it raises an important need for further research to be conducted on the impact of repeated experiences in health care on perceptions of sexuality held by youth with disabilities.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/30108
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-20080
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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