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Predictors of negative beliefs toward the sexual rights and perceived sexual healthcare needs of people with physical disabilities in South Africa

Carew, Mark T and Braathen, Stine Hellum and Hunt, Xanthe and Swartz, Leslie and Rohleder, Poul (2019) 'Predictors of negative beliefs toward the sexual rights and perceived sexual healthcare needs of people with physical disabilities in South Africa.' Disability and Rehabilitation. ISSN 0963-8288

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Background: Although sexuality is a ubiquitous human need, recent empirical research has shown that people without disabilities attribute fewer sexual rights and perceive sexual healthcare to benefit fewer people with disabilities, compared to non-disabled people. Within a global context, such misperceptions have tangible, deleterious consequences for people with disabilities (e.g., exclusion from sexual healthcare), creating an urgent need for effective strategies to change misperceptions. Methods: To lay the groundwork for developing such strategies, we examined predictors of the recognition of sexual rights of people with physical disabilities within the South African context, derived from three key social psychological literatures (prejudice, social dominance orientation and intergroup contact), as well as the relationship between sexual rights and beliefs about sexual healthcare. Data were obtained through a cross-sectional survey, given to non-disabled South Africans (N = 1989). Results: Findings indicated that lack of recognition of the sexual rights for physically disabled people predicted less positive beliefs about the benefits of sexual healthcare. In turn, high levels of prejudice (both cognitive and affective) toward disabled sexuality predicted less recognition of their sexual rights, while prejudice (both forms) was predicted by prior contact with disabled people and possessing a social dominance orientation (cognitive prejudice only). Evidence was also obtained for an indirect relationship of contact and social dominance orientation on sexual healthcare beliefs through prejudice, although these effects were extremely small. Conclusion: Results are discussed in terms of their implications for rehabilitation, as well as national-level strategies to tackle negative perceptions of disabled sexuality, particularly in contexts affected by HIV.Implications for rehabilitation Findings demonstrate an empirical link between prejudice toward disabled sexuality, lack of recognition of sexual rights and viewing sexual healthcare of less benefit for disabled people. Consequently, there is need for increased attention to these dimensions within the rehabilitative context. Contact with disabled people, including dedicated interventions, is unlikely to meaningfully impact beliefs about the benefits of sexual healthcare.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Disability, sexuality, HIV, prejudice, intergroup contact, social dominance
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2019 15:23
Last Modified: 11 May 2020 01:00

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