The BETTER model: a guide to assist mental health nurses in discussing sexuality with consumers
Browne, G & Quinn, C 2008, 'The BETTER model: a guide to assist mental health nurses in discussing sexuality with consumers', paper presented to the 34th Annual International Conference of the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, Melbourne, Vic., 6-10 October.
This paper reports on the initial; stages of a study exploring the nurses’ role in discussing sexuality as part of assessment in mental health nursing. The available literature informs us that although there is wide acceptance of sexuality as a legitimate focus for Mental Health Nurses, lack of knowledge about sexuality, conservative attitudes, and anxiety when discussing sexual issues are wide spread. There remains a hesitancy among nurses to discuss sexual issues and to include sexual histories in their day to day practices. The nurse consumer relationship places Mental Health Nurses in a unique position to make sexual health enquiries. A significant portion of consumers suffer sex related problems as a result of their illness, and treatment difficulties. There is evidence that some consumers stop taking their medication because of the effect it has on their sexual responsiveness and ability to form intimate relationships. The initial stage of this project explores nurses’ experience of using the BETTER model. The BETTER model can assist nurses to include sexuality in their assessments to ensure practice standards are met to provide holistic care. Integrating information about sexuality into clinical practice can validate clients’ experiences and enhance their quality of life. By avoiding the topic, nurses are missing a valuable opportunity to educate clients and provide comprehensive, holistic care.