Student perspectives on sexual health: Implications for interprofessional education

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Interprofessional collaboration requires that health professionals think holistically about presenting concerns, particularly for multimodal problems like sexual dysfunction. However, health professions students appear to receive relatively little sexual health education, and generally none is offered on an interprofessional basis. To assess current degree of interprofessional thinking in sexual health care, 472 health professions students in Georgia, United States, were presented with a sexual dysfunction vignette and asked to rate the relevance of, and their familiarity with, interventions offered by several professionals. They also were asked to identify the most likely cause of the sexual dysfunction. Students rated relevance and familiarity with interventions as highest for physicians and lowest for dentists, with higher ratings of nurses by nursing students. More advanced students reported greater familiarity with mental health, physician, and physical therapy interventions. Finally, nursing students were less likely to attribute the dysfunction to a physical cause. These findings indicate that students may prioritize biomedical approaches in their initial assessment and may need additional supports to consider the spectrum of biopsychosocial factors contributing to sexual functioning. To encourage interprofessional critical thinking and prepare students for interprofessional care, sexual health curricula may be improved with the inclusion of interprofessional training. Specific recommendations for curriculum development are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)317-322
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Interprofessional Care
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Interprofessional care
  • Interprofessional education
  • Sexual health
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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