A patient-centred approach to sexuality in the face of life-limiting illness

Med J Aust. 2003 Sep 15;179(S6):S8-11. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2003.tb05567.x.


Sexuality is intrinsic to a person's sense of self and can be an intimate form of communication that helps relieve suffering and lessens the threat to personhood in the face of life-limiting illness. Health professionals struggle to accept that people with life-limiting illness, especially older people, continue to be sexual beings. People facing life-limiting illness may appreciate the opportunity to discuss issues of sexuality and intimacy with a trusted health professional. Practical strategies to assist health professionals to communicate effectively about sexuality and intimacy include creating a conducive atmosphere, initiating the topic, using open-ended questions and a non-judgmental approach, and avoiding medical jargon.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Communication
  • Counseling*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Palliative Care*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Sexuality* / psychology