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Relationship Factors in the Development and Maintenance of ED: Implications for Treatment Effectiveness


Marita P. McCabe, PhD, FAPS, School of Psychology Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, Victoria 3125, Australia. Tel: +61-3-9244 6856; Fax: +61-3-9244 6858; E-mail:


Introduction.  With the advent of effective medical treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED), there has been a reduced focus in recent years on the role of relationship in the development of this disorder.

Aim.  This article examines the contribution of relationship factors to the success or otherwise of different treatment approaches for ED.

Main Outcome Measures.  The results of findings in the literature on the association between relationship factors and the development and maintenance of ED.

Methods.  This article reviews and evaluates the literature that relates to the role of relationship factors in the development and maintenance of ED.

Results.  The current review demonstrates that relationship dynamics are frequently dysfunctional among men with ED. Research demonstrates that addressing these problems is likely to improve the effectiveness of therapy. However, there have been limited studies conducted in this area; many of these studies are methodologically flawed, and so it is difficult to determine the effectiveness of these interventions.

Conclusions.  There needs to be further research on the association between relationship factors and ED. Suggestions for future research that include combined medical and psychological interventions for ED are proposed. McCabe MP. Relationship factors in the development and maintenance of ED: Implications for treatment effectiveness. J Sex Med 2008;5:1795–1804.

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