Iatrogenic sexual dysfunction and the protective withholding of information: in whose best interest?

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Abstract

In recent years a growing body of evidence has highlighted the impact of neuroleptics and antidepressants on sexual function. Research from a service user's perspective suggested that service users are dissatisfied with the information that they received on drugs, and would like more education, in particular, on the side effects of medication that impact on sexual function. This paper reports some of the findings of a grounded theory study that explored how psychiatric nurses responded to issues of sexuality in practice. Emphasis within the paper is given to how nursing staff addressed the side effects of drugs that impact on sexual function. Findings suggested that nurse addressed the issue of prescribed medication and sexual function in practice, using a ‘Veiling Sexualities Cycle’, which had three subcategories: ‘Hanging the Veil’, ‘Lifting the Veil’ and ‘Re-veiling’. In the light of contemporary mental health policy, findings from the study are discussed and recommendations for practice and education made.

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