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Palliative Care Communication and Sexuality 

Palliative Care Communication and Sexuality
Chapter:
Palliative Care Communication and Sexuality
Author(s):

Les Gallo-Silver

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190201708.003.0036
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date: 08 December 2019

Palliative care is quintessentially holistic but often excludes the patient’s sexual feelings and needs. Palliative care professionals frequently avoid the issue of sexuality due to their discomfort, cultural taboos, and misconceptions of the variety of ways people express their sexuality. This chapter focuses on the foundation of human sexuality in the need for touch. Touch is as an appropriate part of nonverbal communication to express love, affection, concern, comfort, support, and encouragement in human relationships, which includes the patient’s relationships with healthcare providers. People’s needs for touch remain lifelong and increase when they seek comfort and support. Serious illnesses and chronic conditions do not diminish the need for physical affection and soothing but rather increase these needs. This chapter describes strategies to meet the sexual needs and concerns of patients receiving palliative care, a paradigm for assessing the need for touch, and guidelines and information on how to assess and provide comfort through touch.

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