A pilot study on sexuality in the rehabilitation of the spinal cord injured: exploring woman's perspective

Angel Hargreaves, J Robinson, A Forrest, C Pope-Ellis

Abstract


This qualitative study aimed at gaining an understanding of spinal cord injured women’s subjective views and perceptions regarding the inclusion of sexuality in their rehabilitation.

A focus group comprising four women with complete spinal cord injuries who had received their injury not less than 2 years previously and who had been through a rehabilitation programme in the past 5 years confirmed the significance of the dialectical relationship between sexuality and self esteem. Self esteem had a great impact on the participants’ ability to resume their lives as sexual beings and their receptiveness to sexuality being addressed in rehabilitation. Further, the participants’ ability to resume their lives as sexual beings was impacted on by personal, partners and societal attitudes. It was also equated with their ability to engage in the physical acts of sex. This supports the theoretical constructs of occupational science which recognises the relationship between doing, being and becoming.

 One of the significant shortcomings of rehabilitation was the failure to provide individualised and client-centred intervention when including sexuality. Therapists need to adjust the time and manner in which sexuality is addressed and consider the use of peer counselling, group discussion and access to detailed information and resources.

 Key words: Activities of Daily Living, Female, Rehabilitation, Sexuality, Spinal cord injury.


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ISSN 0038-2337 (print), ISSN 2310-3833 (online)

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