Staff Responses to Sexual Self-Stimulation by Residents with Dementia Living in Residential Aged Care Facilities: A Qualitative Systematic Review


Patricia Morris,Interdisciplinary Studies, University of New Brunswick Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
Rose McCloskey,Nursing and Health Sciences, University of New Brunswick Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
Bridget Laging,Faculty of Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia
Richelle Witherspoon,Library Sciences, University of New Brunswick Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada
Alexis McGill,Interdisciplinary Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Newfoundland, Canada


This review synthesizes qualitative evidence about staff members’ responses to sexual self-stimulation by residents with dementia living in residential aged care facilities, in an effort to understand the kinds of attitudes their responses convey to residents. A three-step search strategy was created by a librarian and used to identify English language qualitative primary research studies. The search was conducted across four academic databases (Medline, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Embase, Education Resources Information Centre). Grey literature searches were conducted in Google and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. The reference lists of included studies were also searched for additional resources. Two papers met the inclusion criteria. Two researchers independently appraised the quality of the studies and both were of sufficient quality to merit inclusion. Data extraction was performed by two independent researchers and revealed 24 findings. From these findings, all researchers agreed upon two overarching synthesized findings: 1) staff responses (including normalizing, avoiding interference, assisting) convey positive attitudes toward self-stimulation by residents with dementia in residential aged care and 2) staff responses (including reprimanding, pathologizing, and reporting to superiors) convey negative attitudes toward self-stimulation in this context. From these findings, the researchers highlight a particular need for research that explores residents’ experiences of these encounters, along with research about variations between staff members’ hypothetical responses and their actual responses in practice. The researchers also highlight a need for increased conversation about the nature of public/private space in residential aged care facilities, which influence understandings of sexual propriety in these environments.



Masturbation, Self-stimulation, Residential aged care, Dementia, Sexuality, Erotophobia, Qualitative systematic review


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  • APA:
    Morris,P.& McCloskey,R.& Laging,B.& Witherspoon,R.& McGill,A.(2021). Staff Responses to Sexual Self-Stimulation by Residents with Dementia Living in Residential Aged Care Facilities: A Qualitative Systematic Review. International Journal of Advanced Nursing Education and Research, 6(2), 1-16. 10.21742/IJANER.2021.6.2.01
  • Harvard:
    Morris,P., McCloskey,R., Laging,B., Witherspoon,R., McGill,A.(2021). "Staff Responses to Sexual Self-Stimulation by Residents with Dementia Living in Residential Aged Care Facilities: A Qualitative Systematic Review". International Journal of Advanced Nursing Education and Research, 6(2), pp.1-16. doi:10.21742/IJANER.2021.6.2.01
  • IEEE:
    [1] P.Morris, R.McCloskey, B.Laging, R.Witherspoon, A.McGill, "Staff Responses to Sexual Self-Stimulation by Residents with Dementia Living in Residential Aged Care Facilities: A Qualitative Systematic Review". International Journal of Advanced Nursing Education and Research, vol.6, no.2, pp.1-16, Dec. 2021
  • MLA:
    Morris Patricia, McCloskey Rose, Laging Bridget, Witherspoon Richelle and McGill Alexis. "Staff Responses to Sexual Self-Stimulation by Residents with Dementia Living in Residential Aged Care Facilities: A Qualitative Systematic Review". International Journal of Advanced Nursing Education and Research, vol.6, no.2, Dec. 2021, pp.1-16, doi:10.21742/IJANER.2021.6.2.01


  • Volume 6, No. 2, 2021
  • ISSN(p):2207-3981
  • ISSN(e):2207-3159
  • Published:Dec. 2021