Investigating staff’s attitudes and willingness to support men and women with mild intellectual disabilities on matters relating to their sexuality.
D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Background: This study explored residential support staff’s attitudes towards sexuality in men and women with an intellectual disability (ID), and whether their attitudes were linked to a willingness to support service users with sexual matters.
Method: The Attitudes to Sexuality Questionnaire - Individuals with an Intellectual Disability was used to gather data on 34 support staff’s attitudes. This was supplemented with additional questions on risk issues developed by the author. A semi-structured interview examined staff’s experiences of supporting sexual matters.
Result: Liberal attitudes were held, no statistically significant differences were found on attitudes to men and women. Nonetheless, trends were found with more liberal views expressed about men than women on sexual rights and non-reproductive sexual behaviour. Most staff were willing to support the sexuality of service users. A positive association was found between staff’s attitudes and their willingness to support sexuality. Willingness was not associated with feelings of confidence or comfort in dealing with sexual matters.
Conclusions: Sexuality is an integral aspect of quality of life. Understanding staff’s values and attitudes towards the sexuality of people with ID is important, as this population of people rely on staff for support on this sensitive topic. Assisting the sexuality of people with ID is a complex and emotive subject worthy of further investigation.
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