Consumer sexual relationships in a Forensic mental health hospital: Perceptions of nurses and consumers

Brenda HAPPELL

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The management of consumer-related risk is paramount in a secure forensic mental health facility. However, the consequent risk aversion presents a major barrier to consumers forming sexual relationships in a manner that is open and accepted. Investigation of the views of nurses working in forensic mental health settings on this topic is limited, and even more so for consumers of services. This qualitative exploratory study was undertaken to elicit the views of consumers and nurses about forming sexual relationships within this long-term and secure setting. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted with 12 nurses and 10 consumers. The benefits of, and barriers to, sexual relationships was identified as a major theme, and these findings are the focus of this paper. Nurse responses included the subthemes 'supportive factors' and 'potential dangers', reflecting their qualified support. Consumer responses included the subthemes 'therapeutic', 'feeling normal', 'restrictions and barriers', and 'lack of support and secrecy'. The importance of sexual relationships was clearly articulated, as was the difficulties in forming and maintaining them within the forensic setting. More open discussion about this commonly-avoided issue and the education of nurses and other health professionals is required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015

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