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Sex on show. : Issues of privacy and dignity in a forensic mental health hospital : nurse and patient views
Aims and objectives: To explore perceptions of privacy and dignity for sexual relationships in a Forensic mental health hospital. Background: The role of nurses in forensic mental health hospitals is frequently complicated by opposing expectations of therapeutic relationships and maintaining security. What can result is an over-emphasis on risk reduction by controlling patient behaviour, which can extend to patient intimacy and sexual relationships. Design: An exploratory, qualitative approach. Methods: Individual interviews were conducted with 12 nurses and 10 patients in a forensic mental health hospital. Thematic data analysis was undertaken to identify the main themes. Results: The need for a private and dignified place for patient intimacy was one major theme to emerge from this research from both nurse and patient participants and is the focus of this article. A disparity is reported between the level of support reported by nurse participants with the experience of the patient participants. Conclusions: Sexual intimacy and sexual relationships are important components of normal human behaviour. Institutional rules and rule adherence create barriers for patients, forcing their intimacy and sexual relationships into secrecy. There is a need for further research to consider the benefits and risks of patient intimacy and sexual relationships for long-term patients in forensic mental health settings. Relevance to clinical practice: Patients in forensic hospitals are sexually active and seek support from nurses. Nurses are in an ideal role to recognise the important part they can play in supporting the intimacy and sexual relationship needs of patients. Strategies to assist in developing confidence in responding to normal human behaviour is a matter of priority.