Scale for Quality of Sexual Function (QSF) as an Outcome Measure for Both Genders?


Lothar A.J. Heinemann, MD, DSc, MSc, ZEG-Center for Epidemiology & Health Research Berlin, Berlin, Germany. Tel: +49-30-9451-0124; Fax: +49-30-9451-0126; E-mail:


Conflict of Interest. There was no funding from outside for this research. Dr Saad is an employee of Schering AG.


Background.  For years, there has been interest in sexual dysfunction and its impact on quality of life but usually focused on one gender. Therapeutic options that became available raised the interest to evaluate effects on the other partner but there is no standardized instrument applicable for both genders. This paper reports first data regarding the development of a new general “Quality of Sexual Function” (QSF) scale.

Methods.  The raw scale was based on our own gender-specific scales and the pertinent literature. The scale was applied in over 700 persons of a cross-sectional survey in Germany. Factorial analyses were performed to describe the internal structure (domains) of the scale and for item reduction. Internal consistency reliability and some aspects of validity were analyzed with the same community sample preliminary reference values determined.

Results.  The scale consists of 32 specific items and eight general questions. Four dimensions were identified: “psycho-somatic quality of life,”“sexual activity,”“sexual (dys)function—self-reflection,” and “sexual (dys)function—partner's view.” The internal consistency reliability coefficients of the total scale and the subscales were good as were the total–domain correlations. Content validity was promising.

Conclusion.  This self-administrable 40-item QSF scale can measure and compare quality of sexual function for both genders. The scale was well accepted by the respondents. It is easy to answer and the evaluation is simple. Only a few results of reliability and validity have been established in this early stage of the development of the new instrument. Further research is needed to complete many missing aspects of reliability and the construct validity, particular its sensitivity to treatment effects.