Knowledge and attitudes of Australian GP's, psychiatrists and medical students regarding sexual behaviour in old age
The aged population of Australia is growing rapidly and the arrival of' baby boomers' into this group will bring sexuality into greater focus. Current research demonstrates that sexual activity in old age is important for overall wellbeing. Older patients are interested in discussing sexuality with practitioners but practitioners are generally disinterested. Multiple studies have highlighted barriers to sexual activity in older people, especially within residential facilities. Doctor's knowledge and attitudes may influence this.
To survey three different groups of medical practitioners establishing the level of knowledge and any global deficiencies; measuring attitudes to identify differences and to raise awareness.
The Ageing Sexual Knowledge and Attitudes Scale, was distributed among 84 Medical students, 300 GPs and 45 Psychiatrists in an area of regional Australia. Results were collected and analysed for significant differences between the groups.
55 responses were received with results suggesting some knowledge deficits generally and a difference in attitudes between the groups. Psychiatrists had more liberal attitudes compared to other practitioners. An open question showed recognition by respondents of barriers to elder sexuality especially in residential care settings.
The attitudes between the groups were significantly different in this study. This warrants further research to help guide future training. Although knowledge was not significantly different between the groups, behavioural aspects of sexuality and women's sexuality appeared less well understood. There are recognised barriers to sexual activity in the elderly and further research and education may help dismantle these.
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