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Do health professionals in physical medicine and rehabilitation adress sexual health issues during the process of patients' treatment and recovery? Igls-Vienna-SexMed-Survey-Program: Participants' self-assessment-results at the annual Austrian Congress of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Linz, November 2017

Ucsnik, L1; Kottmel, A2; Bitzer, J3; Teleky, B4; Keilani, M5; Crevenna, R6

1: Medical University Vienna, Austria; 2: Private Practice for Gynecology and Sexual Medicine, Vienna, AUT; 3: Private Practice for Gynecology, Basel, CH; 4: Medical University Vienna, Dpt for Surgery, AUT; 5: Medical University Vienna, Dpt for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, AUT; 6: Medical University Vienna, Head of the Dpt for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, President of the Austrian Society for Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Introduction: Physical medicine and rehabilitation is central for multidisciplinary successful recovery and rehabilitation-concepts for acute as well as chronic disease, trauma, from conservative therapy up to surgery. Thus, health professions from this field, were invited to participate in the Igls-Vienna-SexMed-Survey-Program self-assessing wheter sexual health was part of their concepts and treatment.

Material: At the annual congress of the Austrian Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Linz, November 2017, 29 of 150 congress-participants returned the 3-parted self-assessment-questionnaire (19,3%).

Results: 38% of the participants were female, 52% male, 34% were aged between 51-60, 28% aged between 31-40 years, 52% worked in public hospital. 93% were medical doctors, 7% physical therapists. 66% of the participants asked up to 20% of their patients about sexual problems, 28% did not ask. 79% participants assessed the topic was actively brought up by up to 20% of the patients, 21% of the participants rated they were not asked by the patients. 55% of the health professionals assumed that patients had sexual problems but did not actively ask. Each 17% of the participants assessed that reasons why patients did not bring up the topic were “religion”, “barrier of language” and “being embarrassed by the topic”, 21% of the participants assumed cultural reasons. 79% of the participants evaluated ‘concrete diagnoses’, in 66% of the participants ‘meno-/andropause’, in 52% of the participants ‘after surgery’, in 45% ‘during rehabilitation’, in 41% ‘in the context of pain-therapy’, in 8% ‘when undergoing cures’ being reasons for health professionals to also tackle sexual health issues in treatment. 79% of the participants referred their patients to urologists, 72% to gynaecologists, 52% to physical therapy, 41% to andrologists. 45% of the patients stated that ‘lack of sexual medicine competence for adequate therapy’ and 34% ‘patients’ age’ as well as ‘religion’ reduced physical therapy’s and rehabilitation’s success.

Conclusion: In the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation more than 80% of the patients were not asked about troubled sexuality by health professionals. A need of sexual medicine training concepts, integrating especially diversity aspects, might be concluded. Due to the central role of physical medicine and rehabilitation during recovery this field could play an important coordinating role for patients’ sexual health in the future.


Work supported by industry: no.

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