Service users’ perspectives on sex and sexuality
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Service users’ perspectives on sex and sexuality

Anne Marie Gallagher Nursing student, St Angela’s College, Sligo, Ireland
Carmel Jennings Lecturer, St Angela’s College, Sligo, Ireland

Anne Marie Gallagher and Carmel Jennings provide a literature review concerning intimate relationships in the lives of people with intellectual disabilities

Background People with intellectual disabilities have the same sexual needs as the rest of the population, but find the expression of sexuality complex.

Methodology A thorough review of the literature was conducted by searching CINAHL (EBSCO), PsycINFO (OVID), Swetswise, Wiley Online Library and PubMed electronic databases. Search terms used include: ‘intellectual disability’, ‘learning disability’, ‘sexuality’, ‘sexual knowledge’ and ‘sexual experience’.

Results Sixteen research studies of knowledge and experiences of sexuality in individuals with intellectual disabilities were found. Qualitative methodologies were adopted in 13 of these studies and a quantitative approach in three. Analysis of the 16 studies revealed three predominant themes: sexual knowledge, experiences of sexuality and relationships, and barriers to sexuality and relationships.

Conclusions People with intellectual disabilities tend to have poor sexual knowledge, and their sexual experiences tend to occur in unsafe environments due to restrictions in, and the prohibition of, relationships.

Learning Disability Practice. 18, 1, 18-23. doi: 10.7748/ldp.18.1.18.e1616

Correspondence

gallagheram@gmail.com

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 21 November 2014

Accepted: 05 December 2014

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