Healthcare Professionals' Perspectives on Integrating Reproductive and Acute Mental Healthcare

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Sexuality and Disability

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Objective: Access to trauma-informed sexual and reproductive health services (SRHS) among persons with mental illness (MI) is inadequate and may contribute to health disparities among this population. This qualitative study investigated health professionals' perspectives of SRHS delivery to patients receiving care at a behavioral health hospital. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted in a convenience sample of 26 mental health professionals recruited from one behavioral health hospital. Interviews assessed participants' perceptions of current SRHS offerings, barriers, and opportunities to implement patient-centered SRHS at the hospital. A constant comparison thematic analysis was employed. Results: Participants noted patients' overlapping sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and mental health needs. Most participants indicated clinical responsibility to address these needs. However, participants stated they infrequently provided SRHS because of structural barriers within the healthcare system. Barriers included a lack of hospital policy and health professional education on SRH. Some participants who navigated around these barriers reported using an existing SRH screening tool. Conclusions: Patients receiving care at this behavioral health hospital have unmet SRHS needs. This lack of care may undermine the health of patients with MI. Addressing system level gaps requires clinical re-prioritization. Promising approaches to address this gap include reverse-integrated care models and improved SRHS training of health professionals.


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