The underestimation of sexual risk due to ageism

Anne PF Wand and Carmelle Peisah
Med J Aust 2021; 214 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51108
Published online: 21 June 2021

To the Editor: Sexual incidents involving patients in hospitals are prevalent and are distressing for patients and staff alike, but they are poorly managed.1 Such incidents are frequently perpetrated by people with acute mental illness (eg, mania, psychosis), substance misuse, personality vulnerabilities, and cognitive impairment (eg, delirium, dementia). Sexual incidents span the age range, although lack of staff's understanding of sexuality and sexual behaviour in older adults2 mandates practice improvement.

  • 1 University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW
  • 3 Australian Centre for Capacity, Ethics and the prevention of Exploitation of People with Disabilities, Capacity Australia, Sydney, NSW


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Page S, Carr T, Forsyth S, et al. Sexual safety for in‐patient mental health care‐the democratic diagnosis of change. Issues Ment Health Nurs 2019; 40: 790–797.
  • 2. Norton W, Tremayne P. Sex and the older man. Br J Nurs 2015; 24: 218–221.
  • 3. Secretary New South Wales Health. Sexual safety‐ responsibility and minimum requirements for mental health services. 2013. Contract No.: PD2013_038. (viewed Dec 2020).
  • 4. Higgins A, Barker P, Begley CM. Hypersexuality and dementia: dealing with inappropriate sexual expression. Br J Nurs 2004; 13: 1330–1334.
  • 5. Archibald C. Sexuality and dementia in residential care — whose responsibility? Sex Relatsh Ther 2002; 17: 301–309.
  • 6. Ross S, Naumann P, Hinds‐Jackson DV, Stokes L. Sexual harassment in nursing: ethical considerations and recommendations. Online J Issues Nurs 2019; 24: 1.


remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Online responses are no longer available. Please refer to our instructions for authors page for more information.