Sexual counselling of cardiac patients: Nurses' perception of practice, responsibility and confidence

T. Jaarsma*, A. Stromberg, B. Fridlund, S. De Geest, J. Martensson, P. Moons, T. M. Norekval, K. Smith, E. Steinke, D. R. Thompson, UNITE Res Grp

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Background: Cardiac patients may experience problems with sexual activity as a result of their disease, medications or anxiety and nurses play an important role in sexual counselling. We studied the practice, responsibility and confidence of cardiac nurses in the sexual counselling of these patients.

    Method: An adapted version of the nurses' survey of sexual counselling of MI patients was administered during a scientific meeting of the Council on Cardiovascular Nursing and Allied Professionals within the European Society of Cardiology.

    Results: Most of the 157 cardiovascular nurses (87%) who completed the survey felt responsible to discuss sexual concerns with their clients, especially when patients initiated a discussion. However in practice, most respondents rarely addressed sexual issues. The items that nurses reported to counsel patients were closely related to the cardiac disease, symptoms and medications and seldom more sensitive subjects (e.g. foreplay, positions). Nurses estimated that their patients could be upset (67%), embarrassed (72%) or anxious (68%) if they were asked about sexual concerns. One-fifth of the nurses felt they had insufficient knowledge and 40% sometimes hesitated to discuss sexual concerns with clients because they might not know how to answer questions. Additional education on sexuality was significantly related to being more comfortable and active in sexual counselling.

    Conclusion: Although cardiac nurses feel responsible and not anxious discussing patients' sexual concerns, these issues are not often discussed in daily practice. Nurses might need more knowledge and specific practical training in providing information on sexual concerns and sexual counselling to cardiac patients. (C) 2009 European Society of Cardiology. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)24-29
    Number of pages6
    JournalEuropean Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar-2010


    • Nurses attitudes
    • Sexuality
    • Sexual counselling
    • CARE

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