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Photo: Erica Lång
Emma Palmcrantz and Frida Henriksson presents their thesis Sexuality in palliative care at the nursing students conference. During the conference, 30 March, will 30 student thesis be presented. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Sexuality in final stage of life

Published: 29 March 2017

Talking about sexuality in health care is important, but it is a subject that is seldom addressed - particularly in the final stage of life. Emma Palmcrantz and Frida Henriksson, nursing students, found in their thesis that both patients and healthcare professionals feel unccomfortable adressing the subject and that the staff feel they do not have enough expertise.

– Sexuality is not just sex, but is also about feeling desirable or be close to the one you love and we felt it was especially important in palliative care, says Frida Henriksson, Filipstad.

In their literature study Sexuality in palliative care they found that it is difficult for patients and health professionals to talk about sexuality because it is a very intimate and private matter. The nursing staff do not know when it's the right time and the patients do not want to bring it up because the medical staff don´t do it.
– It becomes a dilemma when a patient is waiting for the medical staff to bring it up, and the staff is waiting for the patient, another colleague with more experience or doctor to bring it up. The nursing staff believe they do not have have enough knowledge in the matter, says Emma Palmcrantz, Hudiksvall.

The healthcare environment hampers

Although care environment complicates the situation. Patients is not left alone, without the staff knocks and enters. Sometimes ther is more than one patient in the same hall, which also impairs the possibility. If the patient is enroled a long period, it is like everyday life has moved to the department.
– We also saw a change in the relationship between the partners in palliative care where sexuality is changing more towards an emotional stage. It is important to be close and be able to talk to each other as opposed to when it was more physical, and that the opportunity is given, says Frida Henriksson.

More studies needed

It has been difficult to find articles on the subject and they think that more research needs to be done in this area. The literature review revealed that many health care workers sought knowledge about sexuality before they become licensed.
– After working with this we also feel that it has been better if we might have had a course on sexual health in various contexts, says Frida Henriksson.

In the work with the thesis, they have felt comfortable in the literature search because the programme containes much scientific work.
– During the first year, we wondered why there was so much research in the program, but after a while we realized that we have a duty in our future profession to work evidence-based and scientifically, says Emma Palmcrantz.

On march 30, is the Nursing student conference held, in which students present their thesis projects. In two halls are 31 theses presented. The conference is open to anyone interested.