A time to look within curricula—Nursing students’ perception on sexuality and gender issues


Nursing students could be viewed as dynamic change agents given the knowledge and skills they would be equipped with. Amongst all areas to be addressed in their clientele of the hospital or community setting, one key area that a nurse could focus on is sexuality. This however is often neglected for simple reasons such as lack of knowledge, embarrassment, fear of intrusion on privacy, or it is perceived as an un-important concern of the patient. Focus groups discussions combined with self report were conducted on 84 nursing students selected by the faculty from three institutions of nursing to assess their perceptions related to sexuality and gender issues, and thus extrapolate on their learning needs within the curriculum. Student expressed discomfort in caring for patients who had sexual expressions and relationships different from the accepted cultural norm; perceived sexuality primarily as heterosexual relationship; helplessness when faced with sexual harassment in the health care field and gaps in their present curricula in relation to contextualization of sexuality and gender issues.

Share and Cite:

Washington, M. and Pereira, E. (2012) A time to look within curricula—Nursing students’ perception on sexuality and gender issues. Open Journal of Nursing, 2, 58-66. doi: 10.4236/ojn.2012.22010.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Magnan, M.A., Reynolds, K.E. and Galvin, E.A. (2005) Barriers to addressing patient sexuality in nursing practice. Medsurg Nursing, 14, 282-289.
[2] Kelton, S. (1999) Sexuality education for youth with chronic conditions. Pediatric Nursing, 25, 491-495.
[3] Southard, N.Z. and Keller, J. (2009) The importance of assessing sexuality: A patient perspective. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 13, 213-217. doi:10.1188/09.CJON.213-217
[4] Redelman, M.J. (2008) Is there a place for sexuality in the holistic care of patients in the palliative care phase of life? American Journal of Hospice Palliative Care, 25, 366-368. doi:10.1177/1049909108318569
[5] Herson, L., Hart, K.A., Gordon, M.J. and Rintala, D.H. (1999) Identifying and overcoming barriers to providing sexuality information in the clinical setting. Rehabilitation Nursing, 24, 148-151.
[6] Vassiliadou, A., Stamatopoulou, E., Triantafyllou, G., et al. (2008) the role of nurses in sexual counselling of patients after myocardial infarction. Health Science Journal, 2, 111-118.
[7] Zeng, Y.C., Liu, X. and Loke, A.Y. (2011) Addressing sexuality issues of women with gynaecological cancer. Chinese nurses attitudes and practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 68, 280-282.
[8] WHO (1975) Education and training in human sexuality. The training of health professionals. Technical Report Series No. 572.
[9] Nusbaum, M.R., Gamble, G., Skinner, B. and Heiman, J. (2000) the high prevalence of sexual concerns among women seeking routine gynecological care. Journal of Family Practice, 49, 229-232.
[10] Handa, A. (1995) Sex education for adolescents. Nursing Journal of India, 38, 173-177.
[11] Indian Nursing Council (2001) Syllabus and regulations—Diploma in general nursing and midwifery. INC, New Delhi.
[12] Indian Nursing Council (2004) Syllabus—Basic B.Sc. INC, New Delhi.
[13] Washington, M. (2011) Critical analysis of undergraduate nursing programs to determine the need for sexuality and gender sensitization of student nurses. RGUHS Journal of Nursing Sciences, 1, 34-40.
[14] Chauduri, P. (2006) Sexual harassment in the workplace-Experiences of women in the health sector. Health and Population Innovation Fellowship Programme Working Paper, Population Council, New Delhi.
[15] Prasad, K. (2007) Sexual harassment in the workplace. The Nursing Journal of India, 98, 9-10.
[16] Andrews, W.C. (2000) Approaches to taking a sexual history. Journal of Women’s Health and Gender-Based Medicine, 9, S21-24. doi:10.1089/152460900318821
[17] Washington, M. (2010). BEING-becoming empowered in nursing growth. Training guide for nursing students on sexuality and gender. Health and Population Innovation Fellowship Program, Population Council, New Delhi.
[18] Stokes, T. and Mears, J. (2000) Sexual Health and practice nurse: A survey of reported practice and attitudes. British Journal of Family Planning, 26, 89-96.
[19] Krishnaswamy, L. (2001) Psychosocial problems of adolescents—An exploratory study. Indian Journal of Continuing Nursing Education, 1, 34-38.
[20] Schuster, E.A., Unsain, I.C. and Goodwin, M.H. (1982) Nursing practice in human sexuality. Nursing Clinics of North America, 17, 345-349.
[21] Zalar, M.K. (1982) Role preparation of nurses in human sexual functioning. Nursing Clinics of North America, 17, 351-362.
[22] Waterhouse, J. (1993) Discussing sexual concerns with health care professionals: Positive attitudes in healthy subjects. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 11, 125-134. doi:10.1177/089801019301100202
[23] Waterhouse, J. and Matcalfe, M. (1991) Attitudes towards nurses discussing sexual concerns with patients. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 16, 1048-1054. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2648.1991.tb03365.x

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.