Background and Purpose.
Inappropriate patient sexual behavior (IPSB) is defined by Johnson and colleagues as any “verbal or physical act of an explicit, or perceived, sexual nature, which is unacceptable within the social context in which it is carried out.”1(p688) IPSB is pervasive in clinical practice, experienced by as many as 85% of physical therapists during their career, and has significant negative consequences for both clinicians and patients.2,5,6 Therefore, entry-level physical therapist education should prepare students to effectively address such situations. The purpose of this article is to propose a strategy for training physical therapist and physical therapist assistant students to competently respond to IPSB.
Position and Rationale.
Curricula should include the definition and prevalence of IPSB, legal rights and ethical obligations, factors influencing IPSB, assertive techniques, and instruction in effective documentation. Education that highlights both a commitment to the patient’s and the clinician’s rights to protection will assist in the development of professional behavior. The inclusion of role-play and case studies encourage students to consider their own values and practice formulating responses. Training in assertiveness techniques and tools for proper documentation will prepare students for real-world application.
Addressing IPSB is a complex task that is often highly charged emotionally for both patient and professional. Providing preparation as part of physical therapist education increases the likelihood of positive outcomes.