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Who's talking now? : an exploratory study examining nurses' involvement in parent-child communication related to sexual health and the factors that influence this involvement Alexander, Sandra Dee


Unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections can negatively impact the health of adolescents. Teens require sexual health education to assist them in making informed choices regarding their sexual health. School-based sexual health education is one means in which adolescents acquire this knowledge. Another important source for this information, as identified in the literature, is from their parents. There are a number of studies that suggest that many parents may require support to enhance their ability to effectively communicate with their children about sexual health. Nurses are in a prime position to assist families with sexual health communication. However, there is a dearth in the literature regarding nurses' involvement in parent-child sexual health communication. The qualitative research method of focused ethnography was used to investigate nurses involvement with parent-child communication related to sexual health. Data were obtained from twelve community health nurses during audio-taped interviews. Trigger questions were used to explore nurses' practice related to their involvement with families and sexual health communication. Content and thematic analyses were used to identify themes in the data. Data analysis revealed that nurses do not necessarily initiate sexual health communication discussion with families. However, families often come to nurses, through the programs they carry out with the public, to ask questions related to sexual health and communication. Nurses support families in a number of ways. Nurses believe that parents are the primary educators of their children and that education should start early. The participants recognized that comfort levels in families around sexual health discussion varies and can impact communication. Comfort level and lack of resources are factors impacting nursing practice. Education related to sexual health education and supporting families is lacking in undergraduate programs. The findings can assist nurses and nurse educators to provide support to families with sexual health communication. Undergraduate nursing programs need to integrate sexuality education into their current nursing curricula. More research is required identifying parental needs related to parent-child sexual health communication.

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