The impact of assistive equipment on intimacy and sexual expression

TAYLOR Bridget
Journal article citation:
British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74(9), September 2011, pp.435-442.

Despite the expression of sexuality being an important quality of life domain, it continues to receive scant attention from occupational therapists. The author describes sexuality as a holistic concept that involves more than the sexual act. She conducted conversational interviews with 13 people with motor neurone disease living in England, and 10 of their partners. The aims of the research were to: understand the impact of life limiting illness on the expression of sexuality and intimacy for people with MND and their partners; to understand the meaning of sexuality and intimacy for these individuals; and to identify recommendations for health care practice. The study employed Heideggerian phenomenological principles which value the subjective experiences of individuals and support the view that the researchers subjectivity cannot be set aside but must be accounted for within the analysis. The findings provide evidence for the value of touch in people's lives and shed light upon the impact that assistive equipment has on intimacy, sexual expression and maintaining emotional and physical connection between couples. None of the people interviewed had previously been given the opportunity to discuss these issues with their occupational therapist. The author suggests that there is a place in occupational therapy practice for discussing the value of emotional and physical connection for individuals in the context of any equipment provided.

Subject terms:
long term conditions, motor neurone disease, occupational therapy, partners, physical disabilities, sexual behaviour, sexuality, user views, assistive technology;
Content type:
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