The CHARMS Study: Cardiac patients' experiences of sexual problems following cardiac rehabilitation

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Background: Sexual problems are common among cardiac patients. Further information is required on patients experiences of sexuality and preferences for sexual counselling. Aim: To characterise sexual dysfunction and related factors among patients following cardiac rehabilitation and examine related treatment delivery. Methods: Telephone interviews with 382 patients (32% response rate) recruited from six hospital rehabilitation centres. Results: Seventy-nine per cent were male; average age was 64 years (SD 9.8). Forty-seven per cent of the total sample reported no sexual relations in the previous year, and nearly a half of sexually active respondents reported at least one sexual problem. Erectile dysfunction (reported by 33%) and lack of interest in sex (reported by 10%) were the most common problems for men and women respectively. Twenty-three per cent reported that sex had deteriorated for them since their cardiac event, and for half of these this was considered a serious problem. In logistic regression analysis, higher anxiety (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and being male were associated with reporting a sexual problem (x2 = 37.85, p<0.001). Sixty-six per cent reported that sex was never discussed by a health professional and satisfaction with this aspect of care was low. Patients wanted these issues to be addressed and the majority (63%) claimed they would find it easy to discuss sexual problems with a health professional. Conclusions: Sexual inactivity and sexual problems are common in this group. Health professionals should address sexual issues with their patients, ideally in a private setting and within the broader context of addressing psychological wellbeing. © 2013 The European Society of Cardiology.




Byrne, M., Doherty, S., Murphy, A. W., McGee, H. M., & Jaarsma, T. (2013). The CHARMS Study: Cardiac patients’ experiences of sexual problems following cardiac rehabilitation. European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 12(6), 558–566.

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