Recommendations for spinal rehabilitation professionals regarding sexual education needs and preferences of people with spinal cord dysfunction: A mixed-methods study

P W New, M Seddon, C Redpath, K E Currie, N Warren

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Study design: Mixed-methods study using comprehensive survey and semi-structured interviews.Objectives: Compare the experiences of sexual education during rehabilitation for people with non-traumatic spinal cord dysfunction (SCDys) and traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI), determine preferences for the delivery of this information and provide recommendations for spinal rehabilitation professionals.Setting: Community, Australia. Methods: Adults completed survey (traumatic SCI n=115; SCDys=39) or were interviewed (SCDys: n=21). Survey included questions regarding sexual education during rehabilitation, participant satisfaction with this and preferred modes for receiving such information. These themes were also explored during interviews. Results: No difference between SCI and SCDys regarding satisfaction or preferred modes of presentation (all P>0.05). People with SCDys were less likely to report receiving sexuality education during rehabilitation (SCDys n=11, 30%; SCI n=61, 53%; P=0.03). Interviews suggested that this may be gendered, as only two women recalled receiving sexual education, whereas men often received this as part of continence management. Overall, only 18% were satisfied or very satisfied with sexual education and information received, and 36% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Preferred modes for receiving sexuality information included sexuality counsellor (n=97), recommended internet sites (n=77), peer support workers (n=76), staff discussion (n=67), written information (n=67) and DVD (n=58). These preferences were confirmed during interviews, although women expressed a strong preference for written information sheets.Conclusion: There was very low satisfaction with sexuality education during rehabilitation. Our findings highlight the scope and directions for improving the sexual education and information given to people with both SCDys and SCI during rehabilitation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1203-1209
Number of pages7
JournalSpinal Cord
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

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