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Should psychiatric inpatients be allowed to engage in sexual activities? Do clinicians have a right to prevent them from doing so? If so, when may sexual interaction be restricted? What sorts of clinical issues and problems are posed for nursing staff, and how should psychiatrists and administrators respond to these? These and related questions have received little attention from either medical or legal scholars, in sharp contrast to the extensive analysis devoted to other issues affecting the lives of psychiatric inpatients, and in especially sharp contrast to our culture's inundation with media messages about sex. This article summarizes the modest body of scholarship concerning sexual interactions among hospitalized patients, the clinical and administrative questions faced by psychiatrists who work with inpatients, and the potential medicolegal problems that inpatients' sexual activities can create. It concludes with a conceptual framework that clinicians can use to devise solutions to the problems arising from inpatients' sexuality.


25 Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law 441–460 (1997)