Knowledge of and attitudes toward sexuality in the elderly among educators of health care professionals

Helmes, E., and Chapman, J.L. (2008) Knowledge of and attitudes toward sexuality in the elderly among educators of health care professionals. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 27 (Supp 1). pp. 48-49.

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[Extract] Background: Negative attitudes toward sexual expression among older adults are common; people become sexually inactive with increasing age. Knowledge of and attitudes toward sexuality in older adults among healthcare professionals is influenced by those characteristics in the people who provide health care training. The objective of this study was to survey educators of health care professionals in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa to determine the relationship between their knowledge of sexuality among older adults and their attitudes.

Methods: The Aging Sexual Knowledge and Attitudes Scale (ASKAS, White, 1982) was used to survey universities offering courses in nursing, medicine, psychology, social work, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy. A total of 114 department heads (81 in Australia, 22 of 28 universities responding, 14 in New Zealand, all of 7universities responding, and 19 in South Africa, 5 of 7 universities responding) were contacted to request permission to distribute the ASKAS to their teaching staff.

Results: The response rate was 43.3% of 838 questionnaires distributed, with the lowest participation from South Africa and the highest from Australia. Age was most highly correlated with knowledge about sexuality, with experience in clinical work, teaching, and work with older people also significantly correlated with knowledge. No demographic variable was associated with attitude scores.

Conclusions: Older and more experienced educators of health professionals within the sample possessed aboveaverage levels of knowledge and had relatively permissive attitudes toward sexuality in older adults. Generalization of the results is limited by low levels of participation within some disciplines from some countries, but these preliminary findings suggest that educators of health care professionals are fairly knowledgeable about sexuality among older adults. We presume that this knowledge and positive attitudes are then conveyed to students, but this study does not have direct evidence on that point.

Item ID: 25438
Item Type: Article (Abstract)
ISSN: 1741-6612
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2013 06:43
FoR Codes: 17 PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES > 1701 Psychology > 170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 50%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940103 Ageing and Older People @ 50%
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