Sexual functioning among women with physical disabilities

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Abstract

Objective: Three a priori hypotheses were tested: (1) There are significant differences in sociosexual behaviors of women with physical disabilities compared with women without disabilities; (2) the sexual functioning of women with disabilities is significantly related to age at onset of disability; (3) psychological factors explain more of the variance in the sexual functioning of women with physical disabilities than do disability, social, or environmental factors. Design: Case-comparison study using written survey. Setting: General community. Participants: The questionnaire was mailed to 1,150 women with physical disabilities who were recruited as volunteers or through independent living centers. Each woman gave a second copy of the questionnaire to an able-bodied female friend, which comprised the comparison group. The response rate was 45%, with 475 cases and 425 comparisons eligible to participate. The most common disability type was spinal cord injury (24%), followed by polio (18%), muscular dystrophy (11%), cerebral palsy (11%), multiple sclerosis (10%), joint disorders (7%), and skeletal abnormalities (5%). Interventions: None. Main Outcome Measures: Sexual functioning, consisting of four factors: (1) sexual desire, (2) sexual activity, (3) sexual response, and (4) sexual satisfaction. Results: Highly significant differences were found in level of sexual activity (p = .000001), response (p = .000009), and satisfaction (p = .000001) between women with and without disabilities. No significant differences were found between groups on sexual desire. Severity of disability was not significantly related to level of sexual activity. Conclusion: Psychological and social factors exert a strong impact on the sexual functioning of women with physical disabilities. Further investigation is needed of the effect of social environment on development of self-esteem and sexual self-image, and how these influences affect levels of sexual functioning in women with physical disabilities.

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APA

Nosek, M. A., Rintala, D. H., Young, M. E., Howland, C. A., Foley, C. C., Rossi, D., & Chanpong, G. (1996). Sexual functioning among women with physical disabilities. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 77(2), 107–115. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0003-9993(96)90154-9

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