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J Sex Med. 2009 Aug;6(8):2124-32. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01334.x. Epub 2009 Jun 1.

Patients' sexual health: a qualitative research approach on Greek nurses' perceptions.

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Aristotle University, Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health, Thessaloniki, Greece.



Health care professionals, especially nurses, through their contact with patients, play an important role in encouraging discussions about sexual concerns. Aim. To explore perceptions on sexual health issues and how these might inhibit or enhance Greek nurses' ability to incorporate sexual health assessment into everyday practice.


A discussion guide was used as checklist to ensure that the basic issues would be addressed. Topics related to the areas of interest were either brought up from the participants or introduced by the moderator.


The study recruited a purposive sample of 44 Greek staff nurses (SN) attending a course leading to their professional upgrading. A qualitative research design was employed using seven focus groups. Discussions started with nurses' perceived definitions of sexual health and proceeded with open-ended questions. Transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis based on the principles of grounded theory.


Three central themes were identified from transcripts' thematic analysis: subjective perception of sexual health, discussing sexual problems, and educational and training needs. Participants' perceptions of sexual health centred mainly on the emotional and somatic dimensions. Regarding clinical practice, a variety of personal and contextual reasons limit nurses' willingness to talk about sexuality with patients, such as gender and age differences, familial upbringing, lack of time and privacy, and restricted perception of nursing role. All nurses stressed the need for further specialized training not only in physiology issues related to sexuality, but also most importantly in communication skills.


Although Greek nurses acknowledge the importance of sexual health assessment, they believe that sexual history taking is not within the range of their professional tasks. Since holistic care demands sexual health assessment and intervention to be an integral part of nursing practice, it is necessary to introduce courses in their curriculum and experiential workshops addressing the multidimensionality of sexuality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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