Unravelling sexual care in chronically ill patients: The perspective of GP practice nurses

Pieter C. Barnhoorn*, Hannah R. Zuurveen, Inge C. Prins, Gaby F. van Ek, Brenda L. den Oudsten, Marjolein E. M. den Ouden, Hein Putter, Mattijs E. Numans, Henk W. Elzevier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Assessment of sexual health is important in chronically ill patients, as many experience sexual dysfunction (SD). The general practice nurse (GPN) can play a crucial part in addressing SD.


The aim of this cross-sectional study was to examine to which extent GPNs discuss SD with chronically ill patients and what barriers may refrained them from discussing SD. Furthermore, we examined which factors had an association with a higher frequency of discussing SD.


A cross-sectional survey using a 48-item questionnaire was send to 637 GPNs across the Netherlands.


In total, 407 GPNs returned the questionnaire (response rate 63.9%) of which 337 completed the survey. Two hundred and twenty-one responding GPNs (65.6%) found it important to discuss SD. More than half of the GPNS (n = 179, 53.3%) never discussed SD during a first consultation, 60 GPNs (18%) never discussed SD during follow-up consultations. The three most important barriers for discussing SD were insufficient training (54.7%), 'reasons related to language and ethnicity' (47.5%) and 'reasons related to culture and religion' (45.8%). More than half of the GPNs thought that they had not enough knowledge to discuss SD (n = 176, 54.8%). A protocol on addressing SD would significantly increase discussing during SD.


This study indicates that GPNs do not discuss SD with chronically ill patients routinely. Insufficient knowledge, training and reasons related to cultural diversity were identified as most important reasons for this practice pattern. Implementation of training in combination with guidelines on SD in the general practice could improve on the discussing of sexual health with chronic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766-771
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • barriers
  • chronically ill patients
  • general practice nurse
  • general practitioner
  • sexual dysfunction
  • sexual health
  • MEN


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