Importance and Timing of Sexual Counseling After Myocardial Infarction

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Abstract

Background.

This study examined differences in the perceptions of the importance and timing of sexual counseling in patients with myocardial infarction (MI).

Methods.

Using a longitudinal descriptive prospective design, subjects were identified from the discharge records of three health-care agencies after having experienced an acute MI in the last 4 to 8 weeks. The Sexual Counseling Needs of MI Patients Survey and a consent form were mailed to patients at 2, 4, and 6 months after MI. Patients (N = 91) rated the importance and timing of 14 sexual counseling items using a Likert scale (1 to 5), and reported the preferred method of education. The possible range for the importance score was 14 to 70.

Results.

Mean importance ratings for each of the 14 items at each of the data collection periods ranged from 3.28 to 4.59. The mean overall importance score at 2 months (56.96), 4 months (56.52), and 6 months (55.19) reflected the importance of these items for teaching. There was no significant difference between importance scores at each of these time periods. Subjects were divided as to when sexual counseling should occur, in hospital or after discharge, for items related to specific sexual counseling. The most preferred educational method at 2, 4, and 6 months after MI were written materials, followed by individual discussion, and a videotape to watch at home.

Conclusions.

Patients validated the importance of each of the specific areas for sexual counseling after MI. The timing and educational methods for sexual counseling must be further addressed in future research. Sexual counseling initiated in the acute-care setting and continued throughout the recovery period can impact the quality of life of patients with MI and their partners.

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