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Survey on International Health Professional Training and Attitudes on Sexuality After Traumatic Brain Injury

Abstract

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with a range of deficits that may negatively impact sexuality. Few studies have explored how professionals respond to sexuality issues among individuals with TBI. The present study aimed to examine the attitudes and level of training of international health professionals working with individuals with TBI and whether guidelines exist in their work settings related to sexual issues. A survey composed of 53 questions was developed to evaluate attitudes, professional training, and assessment related to sexuality among health professionals working with individuals with TBI. The sample consisted of 324 self-identified health care professionals. During their training, 83% of professionals reported not taking any specific courses, and 61% reported not taking any type of clinical practice related to sexuality issues after TBI. Approximately 70% reported knowing little information about sexuality issues related to TBI and believed it affected the way in which they address the topic with their patients. Professionals believed sexual expression among both cognitively intact (100%) and cognitively impaired (90%) patients was healthy. Sixty-nine percent reported their work setting had no guidelines to determine if an individual with TBI can consent to sexual activity or not. Sixty-six percent of professionals believed that a patient with severe TBI could consent to sexual activities; however 58% believed it is not their responsibility to determine that. Results demonstrated a need for enhanced educational curriculums with specific courses related to sexuality after TBI. Furthermore, institutions should develop guidelines for the assessment of capacity to consent to sexual activity.

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Correspondence to Juan Carlos Arango-Lasprilla.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Arango-Lasprilla, J.C., Olabarrieta-Landa, L., Ertl, M.M. et al. Survey on International Health Professional Training and Attitudes on Sexuality After Traumatic Brain Injury. Sex Disabil 35, 473–484 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11195-017-9503-y

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Keywords

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Attitudes
  • Training
  • Sexuality
  • Spain