Journal of Primary Health Care Journal of Primary Health Care Society
Journal of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

‘By the way….how’s your sex life?’ – A descriptive study reporting primary health care registered nurses engagement with youth about sexual health

Rhiannon Martel 1 , Ruth Crawford 2 , Helen Riden 3

1 Macleans College, Auckland, New Zealand

2 Faculty of Health, Whitireia New Zealand, Porirua, New Zealand

3 Hawkes Bay District Health Board, Omahu Road, Hastings, New Zealand

Correspondence to: Rhiannon Martel, Macleans College, 2 Macleans Road, Bucklands Beach, Auckland 2145, New Zealand. Email: rh@macleans.school.nz

Journal of Primary Health Care 9(1) 22-28 https://doi.org/10.1071/HC17013
Published: 29 March 2017

Journal Compilation © Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners 2017.
This is an open access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Youth rates of sexually transmitted infections in New Zealand are among the highest in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Registered nurses employed in primary healthcare settings (PHC RNs) may lack confidence engaging with youth about their sexual health.

AIM: To identify what facilitates PHC RNs to discuss sexual health with youth.

METHODS: This descriptive study was undertaken in two phases. In phase one, 23 PHC RNs completed an online survey. Phase two followed up the survey with semi-structured interviews with seven PHC RNs.

RESULTS: Most PHC RNs are female, aged between 40 and 60 years old and identify with New Zealand or other European ethnicity. Participants identified specific educational needs relating to youth sexual health that are not being met: legal and ethical issues (65%); cultural issues (65%); youth sexual (44%) and psychological (52%) development; and working with gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual youth (48%). Lack of time was cited as a barrier to engaging with youth about sexual health by 30% of the participants. Ongoing support practices such as regular debriefing, reflections of practice and case reviews with colleagues (74%); support from other sexual health providers (87%); and access to educational materials about youth sexual health aimed at health professionals (100%) were perceived to be useful to increase confidence in discussing sexual health with youth.

DISCUSSION: The PHC RNs lacked knowledge and confidence engaging with youth about sexual health. PHC RNs need resourcing to provide culturally safe, effective sexual health care to youth.

KEYWORDS: Youth sexual health; registered nurses in primary health care; educational needs; ethnic stereotyping; professional; legal and ethical responsibility


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