Health professions students' perceptions of sexuality in patients with physical disability

Abbey K. Valvano, Lindsey M. West, Christina K. Wilson, Kathryn R. Macapagal, Lauren M. Penwell-Waines, Jennifer L. Waller, Lara M. Stepleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Sexual dysfunction is a common concern among individuals with physical disabilities but often unaddressed by health care professionals, with many reporting lack of sufficient training and perceived lack of competence. The present study sought to examine educational factors and how they relate to health professions students' attitudes around the sexual health needs of individuals with physical disabilities. This was part of a larger study of 479 health professions students from training programs in the Southeast who completed a survey of attitudes and beliefs about sexual health topics. Significant differences were found across student field on the main outcome measure (attitudes related to sexual health of patients with disability). Differences were also found in quantity and quality of sexual health education across student field, with psychology students reporting the lowest quantity and quality of education. Item analysis of the main outcome measure revealed significant differences across student field on most items, with dentistry students generally reporting the most negative attitudes. Implications for health care providers working with patients with physical disabilities are discussed, and suggestions for implementing sexual health curriculum in training programs are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-427
Number of pages15
JournalSexuality and Disability
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Attitudes
  • Beliefs
  • Curriculum
  • Disability
  • Sexuality
  • Students
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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