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Revealing Sexuality:  Have Nurses’ Knowledge and Attitudes Changed? 

Lynne S. Giddings, RGON, RM, PhD, rincipal Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Auckland Institute of Technology 

Pamela J. Wood, RGON, PhD, Dip Tchg (Tert), Senior Lecturer, Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Otago Polytechnic and Victoria University of Wellington 

Reference:  Giddings,L. & Wook, P. (1998). Revealing Sexuality:  Have Nurses’ Knowledge and Attitudes Changed? Nursing Praxis in New Zealand 13(2),11-25

Introduction: 

All nurses should be adequately prepared for assisting clients with issues relating to sexuality.  This article describes a descriptive study undertaken between 1988 and 1991 which used a questionnaire to survey the knowledge and attitudes of New Zealand pre and post registration nursing students regarding sexuality.  The results of this study have previously been available only in an unpublished report.  As interest in this area of research is increasing overseas, and as it is now time to consider resurveying New Zealand nurses, it is useful to have a summary of the findings available to a wider audience.  Phase One analysed the responses of a convenience sample of 319 registered nurses undertaking a one-year post-registration programme in four New Zealand schools of nursing in either er 1988 or 1989.  Phase Two analysed 575 questionnaires completed by a convenience sample of nursing students in their first and/or third years of a three year programme leading to nursing registration.  Analysis of the 35 true/false items showed that students near the completion of their programme were as knowledgeable or more knowledgeable than registered nurses, although there were areas where both groups lacked information.  Analysis of the 33 items measuring attitudes on a 5-point Likert scale suggested that the attitudes of both pre-and post-registration students were more liberal than conservative, but with some differences discernible when participants were grouped by demographic variables.  Importantly, the study found that 55% of pre-registration students, and 88% of registered nurse participants, felt that nurses were inadequately prepared for helping clients with concerns about sexual matters.  The findings are compared with those of studies undertaken overseas this decade.

Key Words:  Sexuality, attitudes, knowledge

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