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Disability, sexual and reproductive health: a scoping review of healthcare professionals’ views on their confidence and competence in care provision
  1. Lucy Emma Craig1,
  2. Zhong Eric Chen2,
  3. Joanne Barrie3
  1. 1 Edinburgh Medical School, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 Chalmers Centre, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3 Central Sexual Health, NHS Forth Valley, Stirling, UK
  1. Correspondence to Lucy Emma Craig, Edinburgh Medical School, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4SB, UK; s1711285{at}


Background The sexual and reproductive needs of people with disabilities are often unmet. Healthcare professionals play an important role in meeting these needs.

Objective To explore the views of healthcare professionals on their confidence and competence in providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to people with disabilities.

Methodology Two databases were searched yielding 14 studies included in the review. Studies detailing healthcare professionals’ experiences working in the subject area were included alongside results and evaluations of staff training/workshops within the area. Search results were screened for eligibility by the first and second authors and any discrepancies were resolved by the third author. All subsequent stages were carried out by the first author and reviewed by the second and third authors.

Results The study's findings indicate that there is a lack of training, guidelines, patient contact, time, teamwork and collaboration between staff, and a lack of awareness/access to resources within this area. Evaluations of training programmes/workshops showed an increase in knowledge, comfort and skills surrounding the subject. Continuous training would be beneficial to ensure these are maintained at a high level.

Conclusions Overall healthcare professionals felt they lack confidence and competence in providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to people with disabilities. Further research in this area is recommended to assess this in more depth. Development of guidelines, multidisciplinary training programmes and further resources for both staff and patients are recommended.

  • sexual health
  • reproductive health
  • professional-patient relations
  • qualitative research

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  • Contributors LEC planned and carried out this review as part of her student dissertation project assignment. She took part in all stages from planning to submission. ZEC helped to plan this review, screened the results returned by the search strategy and reviewed the rest of the work carried out by LEC. ZEC is the guarantor. JB resolved discrepancies during the screening of results returned by the search strategy. She also reviewed the work carried out by LEC.

  • Funding This scoping review was conducted as an educational dissertation as part of a Bachelor of Science course at the University of Edinburgh and so a protocol was not obtained. No funding was received.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.