Sexual Counseling of MI Patients by Cardiac Nurses Infrequently Addressed

Thursday, 16 July 2009: 4:05 PM

Elaine E. Steinke, RN, PhD1
Victoria Mosack, PhD, RN1
Susan A. Barnason, PhD, RN2
David W. Wright, PhD3
1School of Nursing, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS
2Adult Health & Illness, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, Lincoln, NE
3Sociology, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS

Learning Objective 1: describe two findings related to the practice of sexual counseling by cardiac nurses.

Learning Objective 2: discuss two challenges to nurses to incorporate sexual counseling as part of practice from a global health perspective.


Sexual counseling is important to myocardial infarction (MI) patients and partners.  While nursing organizations acknowledge an implicit responsibility of all nurses to provide sexual counseling, nurses often find addressing patient sexual concerns difficult.  The practice of sexual counseling by cardiac nurses has not been studied since the mid-1990’s; therefore, it is unknown if changes in practice have occurred.  This study explored the practice of sexual counseling of MI patients by cardiac nurses.


A descriptive survey design was used and nurses in three Midwestern U.S. cities completed the Survey on Sexuality-Related Nursing Practice-Myocardial Infarction (SSRNP-MI), a 41-item questionnaire containing 9 subscales (2 specific to MI).  Seven subscales with highest reliability (0.75-0.93) were used.  Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and ANOVA.


The sample included 127 cardiac nurses, 45 practicing in hospital cardiac units and 82 cardiac rehabilitation nurses.   The overall score on the SSRNP-MI was 103.65 (possible 35-175).  Subscale results and possible scores:  practice 18.29 (8-40), values 14.10 (5-25), responsibility 19.18 (5-25), discussion 11.43 (4-20), client 11.68 (4-20).  MI specific sexual counseling yielded a score of 22.38 (possible 10-40), and 11.80 (possible 7-28) for counseling by type of sexual activity.  Younger (age 20-35) and older (age 66-older) MI patients were less likely to receive sexual counseling. Cardiac rehabilitation nurses were more likely to discuss sexual issues: practice (p<.001), discussion (p=.001), MI sexual counseling (p=.002), MI sexual activities (p=.002).


Sexual counseling of MI patients by cardiac nurses was infrequently addressed in practice, consistent with prior research, although findings provided added insights for the MI population.  Provision of sexual counseling is not only an important part of quality of life, but it presents a challenge to nurses globally to address sexual counseling in practice, and to become more comfortable and knowledgeable in incorporating sexual counseling as part of practice.