When holistic care is not holistic enough: The role of sexual health in mental health settings.

Avril Hendry, Austyn Snowden, Michael Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Aims and objectives
To explore the preparation that mental health nurses receive to address sexual health in practice.

People who use the mental health services often have complex sexual health needs. Mental health nurses are well placed to offer support. However, this rarely happens in practice, and therefore, people's sexual health needs are not being routinely addressed. It is not known why this is the case.

Systematic review and meta-ethnography.

EBSCO, PsycINFO, MEDLINE and ASSIA databases were searched using Booleans with Mesh and key terms including “mental health nurse” and “sexual health”. Date range was June 2006 to June 2016. Discursive papers were excluded. Included papers (n = 7) were synthesised using a meta-ethnographic approach.

The search yielded seven studies. Five key themes were identified: the (not so) therapeutic relationship; personal values dictating professional ones; institutionalised fear; being human; and education: the answer but where is it?

The findings illustrate the complexity of supporting people with mental health and sexual health needs. They show the discomfort many nurses have about broaching sexual health. Arguably more than with most issues, personal values impacted strongly on professional practice. Understanding the depth and multifaceted nature of these themes is important, because strategies can then be developed to mitigate the barriers to best practice. For example, the findings presented here offer a framework from which structured education and support can be built.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Early online date20 Dec 2017
Publication statusEarly online date - 20 Dec 2017


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