Thursday, April 4, 2013

Behind Closed Doors: School Nurses and Sexual Education

School nurses can play a key role in providing sexual education in schools. However, they often face barriers from the school administration and concerned parents. Additionally, school nurses may have limited formal preparation in managing sexual health issues. This study used a descriptive qualitative method to explore the school nurses’ experiences with facilitators and barriers to providing sexual education. Eighteen nurses from 12 Massachusetts high schools were interviewed.

Results showed that the school nurses do not provide formal sexual education at their schools but frequently conduct informal sessions. School nurses reported that students needed more sexual health information, yet there was no collaboration with the school health teachers. Common barriers included lack of privacy and time, confidentiality issues, and fear of conflict. Nurses working in communities with high teen pregnancy rates reported more barriers. The findings can inform the development of policies and practices for sexual education by school nurses.

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