Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Education

First Advisor

Ogletree, Roberta


TITLE: SEXUALITY WORKPLACE ISSUES AMONG DIRECT SERVICE PERSONNEL WORKING WITH POPULATIONS WHO ARE INTELLECTUALLY DISABLED IN COMMUNITY INTEGRATED LIVING ARRANGEMENTS: A CASE STUDY MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Roberta Ogletree Background: The purpose of this study was to explore DSP workplace experiences, preparation, employee training, emotions, and perceptions in regards to types of sexual and affectionate behaviors exhibited by intellectually disabled adults in their care in the CILA setting. The study focused on analyzing these topics in relation to sexuality/affectionate behaviors experienced in the CILA workplace using a qualitative case study method. This analysis provided an understanding of what ideas and values DSPs brought to their roles of guiding the sexuality/affectionate behaviors of residents in their care and identified additional training needs from the DSP perspective to help them better do their jobs. Methods: Principles found in qualitative evaluation research were used to examine the influence of sexuality and affectionate behaviors and training within its naturally occurring world. The case was comprised of DSPs from the selected organization, located in a rural college town of approximately 25,000 people. Nine DSPs from five different CILA homes participated in the study. Data were generated using semi-structured interviews, observation of behaviors on interview video tapes, observation of emotional verbal cues on interview audio tapes, document analysis, and field notes. Results: Major themes were identified from data and organized around the research questions. Common categories under affectionate behaviors were dating, flirting, friendship/socialization, holding hands/hugging, media/technology, and problematic behaviors. Common categories under sexuality behaviors were groping, masturbation/females, masturbation/males, and problematic behaviors. Less common categories were affectionate behaviors-attention seeking/ego, sexuality behaviors – sexual intercourse, and sexuality behaviors – dating and marriage. Once data were categorized, each category’s responses were sorted to identify overarching theme areas for recommendations. The themes were Employee Training and Development, Socialization Needs (Affectionate Behaviors, Sexuality, and Relationships), and Language Issues (Positive, Negative, and First Person). Primary strengths identified included thinking of residents as family, the feeling of strong management support, and lack of significant conflict within the CILA homes. Elements that detracted from the DSP experience included low rate of hourly pay, employee turnover among DSP supervisors, lack of specific sexuality education for both staff and residents, limited retention of mandatory training topics, and lack of communication of sexuality policies and procedures. Conclusions were a need for additional training for DSPs and staff on the topics of human sexuality and affectionate behaviors in CILA homes; examining DSP training to increase knowledge retention in the staff; better communication of policies, procedures, and protocols regarding sexuality and affectionate behaviors that pertain to how situations are handled in CILA homes; and ensuring all training materials use first person language.




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