July 3, 2009 Resuming sexual activity is expressed by patients as extremely important after a myocardial infarction (MI). In spite of this, sex counselling is an area of nursing practice that is frequently neglected and needs more evidence-based knowledge.
An active sex life is an important condition of life, both before and after an acute or chronic disorder, but evidence concerning the sex life, marital life and marital functioning of patients after having suffered a cardiac event is relatively inadequate. More than 50 percent of patients describe a decrease in sexual activity and satisfaction after an MI.
The most important reason given is the fear of triggering a (re-) infarction, which creates stress and anxiety in the sex and marital life of a couple.
“Counselling should focus on encouraging patients to live a physically active life and not on abstaining from sexual activity. However, sex counselling is frequently neglected by cardiovascular nurses and the area needs more evidence-based knowledge with regard to sex and marital life, leading to both primary and secondary recommendations and actions,” says Professor Bengt Fridlund, School of Health Sciences in Jönköping.
Accordingly, European cardiovascular nursing researchers (UNITE study group) within the European Society of Cardiology with strong affiliations to the School of Health Sciences have had this as a focal area since 2009. The study group has conducted a European survey regarding cardiovascular nurses’ sex information, counselling and attitudes to patients suffering a cardiac event.
Moreover the SAMMI study group, based at the School of Health Sciences and Växjö University, has an ongoing nationwide survey aimed at studying patients’ and their partners’ sex life and marital function one year before as well as after a first MI.
The CONCORDES study group, affiliated to the School of Health Sciences, Linköping University and the University of Kalmar, has instigated an investigation similar to the one conducted by UNITE to assess the knowledge and attitudes of cardiovascular teams regarding sex life and marital function in relation to a cardiac event in three south-east counties in Sweden, and will extend the study to include patients as well as their partners.
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