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A critical literature review of barriers to sexual health care for the older adult population with a proposed intervention

Goldberger, Rachel (2018) A critical literature review of barriers to sexual health care for the older adult population with a proposed intervention. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The current state of sexual health in the United States is a public health concern as incidence rates for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at the highest level ever reported. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2010 to 2014, incidence rates of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis increased dramatically in the older adult population. Older adults are experiencing a significant rise in STD diagnoses. Residents of long-term care facilities are especially vulnerable to contracting a STD than other older adults due to a lack of aging-related sexual education for both residents and staff, as well as negative perceptions of older adult sexuality by medical staff. This literature review examines barriers to sexual health care for older adults and interventions that have been created to reduce these barriers. The results are categorized by: 1) attitudes and beliefs towards the sexual health of older adults, 2) attitudes and knowledge of health professionals, and 3) sexual health interventions created to address barriers to sexual health care for older adults. Findings suggest that older adults are unlikely to initiate conversations about their sexual health with their medical provider due to feelings of embarrassment and a lack of knowledge about aging-related sexual health issues. Findings also suggest the attitudes and behaviors of medical professionals in regards to older adult sexuality are based on societal misconceptions and a lack of training in aging-related sexual health. Current interventions are few in number and lack the elements to properly educate medical professionals and older adults on aging-related sexual health. An intervention is proposed here to include aging-related sexual health training for nursing staff at long-term care facilities and an educational series for the residents. The proposed intervention includes sex education and the opportunity for medical professionals to build their capacity for older adult sexual health care and risk management. The public health significance lies in that STDs, while mostly preventable, unnecessary burden on our health care system. Future research needs to be conducted to account for additional barriers and effective evidence-based interventions to reduce barriers.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Goldberger, Rachelrbg13@pitt.edurbg13
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairElias,
Committee MemberWeinstein,
Committee MemberFusco,
Date: 25 September 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 25 May 2018
Approval Date: 25 September 2018
Submission Date: 30 May 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 64
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: sexual health; older adults; geriatric
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2018 20:09
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2018 20:09


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