Regardless of age, gender, sexual preference, or sexual identity, one’s sexuality is inherently tied to one’s sense of well-being. As such, addressing sexuality (perhaps best defined as the sexual habits and desires of an individual) with our patients is an essential component of providing them comprehensive, compassionate, high-quality care. Despite this reality, providers frequently avoid the topic, stating that their hesitancy stems from a belief that their patients are uncomfortable discussing the topic. The reality it is just as often (if not more often), providers are the ones who are uncomfortable discussing sexuality. As such, it is essential that we consider our own reactions to discussing sexuality and examine the way these reactions might impact the way we care for our patients.
Prior to the small group session, consider how you approach discussing sexuality in your daily encounters – both with family & friends, and with patients. Do you explore sexuality and sexual activity, or do you bypass this subject? Are there certain populations with whom you are more or less comfortable discussing this topic? Explore why this is, keeping in mind how sexuality was addressed in your family and your community growing up, as well as during your adult life.
Assignment: (3 steps)
- Review one of the NY Times articles, one of the videos and take the Kinsey sexuality test. Go ahead – give it a shot! Be prepared to discuss what you think about the quiz and the questions!
- Reflect on a patient or personal encounter in which you did not discuss sexuality and/or sexual activity, but in retrospect wish that you had. Come to the small group session with notes to help you to:
- Describe the situation, setting the stage for this interaction.
- Analyze the impact or potential impact of your not discussing sexuality on your care of your patient.
- After reflecting on this situation and reviewing the above resources, consider what you might do differently in future similar encounters and how you might become more comfortable addressing sexuality in your day to day life both inside and outside of the hospital.
Objectives: By the end of the session on the topic of Sexuality, residents will demonstrate the ability to:
- Identify one’s reaction to sexuality in various populations and consider what factors impact this reaction, to include but not be limited to:
- The individual’s age, gender, sexual preference and sexual identity
- The individual’s own view of their sexuality
- The individual’s apparent comfort/discomfort discussing sexuality
- The relationship of the individual to you
- Reflect on the source(s) of those reactions, including:
- one’s own experiences with their sexuality
- one’s beliefs and values regarding sexuality
- beliefs about who should and should not be sexually active
- how one perceives sexuality to be viewed in the family/community in which you grew up
- how one perceives sexuality to be viewed in the medical and/or military community
- Identify the implications (both positive and negative) of those reactions for your ability to address issues related to sexuality in the care of your patient(s).
- Develop a plan to enhance the positive and mitigate the negative implications of your reaction(s).