Sexuality in palliative care: patient perspectives
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This qualitative study investigated the meaning of sexuality to palliative patients. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with ten patients receiving care in a tertiary palliative care unit, a hospice or by palliative home care services in their homes. Several themes emerged. Emotional connection to others was an integral component of sexuality, taking precedence over physical expressions. Sexuality continues to be important at the end of life. Lack of privacy, shared rooms, staff intrusion and single beds were considered barriers to expressing sexuality in the hospital and hospice settings. Only one subject had previously been asked about sexuality as part of their clinical care, yet all felt that it should have been brought up, especially after the initial cancer treatments were completed. Home care nurses and physicians were seen as the appropriate caregivers to address this issue. Subjects unanimously mentioned that a holistic approach to palliative care would include opportunities to discuss the impact of their illness on their sexuality.
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