Exploring Sexual Risks in a Forensic Mental Health Hospital: Perspectives from Patients and Nurses


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Patients utilising forensic mental health inpatient services experience a range of sexual risks, including vulnerability to sexual exploitation and exposure to sexually transmissible infections. However, there is a paucity of research exploring the issue of sexual risks from the standpoint of patients and the nurses who work closely with them in inpatient secure settings. This article presents findings from a qualitative exploratory study, which investigated the views of patients and nurses about sexual relationships in forensic mental health settings. Risk was a major theme arising from the data and is the focus of this article. Subthemes from nurse participants included sexual safety, sexual vulnerability, unplanned pregnancies, and male sexuality issues. Subthemes from patients included risks associated with sexual activity, access to information and sexual health care, unplanned pregnancies, vulnerability, and male sexuality issues. Knowledge about these sexual risks by patients and nurses were well articulated, however information and assistance were considered by patients to be less than satisfactory in improving their knowledge or in providing the support they considered important to reduce sexual risks. The issue of risk needs to be addressed, and nurses would be well placed to contribute; however they require education to improve their ability to provide sexual health education to patients along with strategies to ensure patients receive the support and services they require to reduce their exposure to sexual risks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)669-677
Number of pages9
JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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