Copenhagen, Denmark, Friday 12 June 2009: Patients with rheumatic diseases want more information and better communication with healthcare professionals on the sexual issues related to their conditions, according to the results of a new study presented today at EULAR 2009, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Copenhagen, Denmark.
However, a second study shows that, although nurses understand the importance of addressing sexual health with their rheumatology patients as an integral part of their care, the nurses' own embarrassment in having such conversations can hinder them in proactively raising the issue.
The sexual relationships of people with rheumatic diseases can be impaired not only by physical symptoms, such as pain, fatigue and disability, but also by feelings of self consciousness and discomfort. Historically, poor communication between patients and healthcare professionals and a lack of clinical guidelines about the effects of rheumatic diseases on sexual issues, have hindered the resolution of such problems.1-3
In the first qualitative study of 23 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, the respondents reported that sexual issues or relationships, in the context of their rheumatic disease, had not been part of their rheumatological healthcare, but they nonetheless considered it a relevant topic that should be included. Furthermore, a lack of information given on the potential sexually-related side effects of medication, such as erectile dysfunction and reduced libido, was identified. When reporting to their rheumatologist, the male patients reported a lack of knowledge or interest in such potential side effects from their healthcare professional.
The patients in the study believed that sexual issues should be addressed as part of the rheumatic healthcare, but sufficient time and an individually adjusted approach were required. A need for variation in information sources and settings for the c
|Contact: Rory Berrie|
European League Against Rheumatism