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How Well Do Healthcare Providers Address Issues of Sexuality in Senior Citizens

1 August 2007


Background: There is uncertainty surrounding whether the sexuality of older people is properly considered by healthcare providers and whether it is adequately addressed when prescribing common medications. It has been demonstrated that senior citizens still enjoy sexuality and intimacy as an important aspect of quality of life. While elderly sexuality is a sensitive and potentially embarrassing issue it is important to consider when providing comprehensive healthcare Objective: How Well Do Health Care Providers Address Issues of Sexuality in Senior Citizens Design: Questionnaire created by the primary investigator.

Setting: Sonrise Church, Hillsboro Oregon and geriatric community at large.

Participants: Men and women over the age of 55.

Measurements: Questionnaires measured the demographic data of the participants, their attitudes, perceptions regarding their sexuality and levels of sexual activity and if their healthcare provider has adequately addressed pertinent issues related to sexual well being~ This 22-question paper survey was distributed to members of the community that are 55 and older, with a brief description of the project.

Results: A total of 40 participants completed surveys. Participants had varying educational background :fi:om high school diploma to doctorate degree. The majority of participants were married, but some were single, divorced or widowed. Most participants were Caucasian, with an African American and a Native American. The majority of medical providers reported were M.D. ' s with a P A's, nurse practioner and D.O. A level of sexual activity was reported along with importance of sexuality, desire and physical ability that was established to be similar in men and women. Patient's degree of comfort discussing sexually related issues were reported, as well as whether patients perceive if providers have adequately addressed their sexual concerns.

Conclusions: Most patients indicated that sexuality was at least moderately important to them as seniors. It was furthermore indicated that the majority of patients denied that their provider discussed sexual function or sexuality with them and approximately half of patients reported that they at least generally disagreed that providers addressed sexually related concerns. I believe this demonstrates that there is a need for an increased education for both patients and healthcare providers supporting the importance of intimacy and sexuality of elderly and the importance of creating comfortable dialog to openly discuss issues.


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