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Association of Sexual Functioning and Quality of Partnership in Patients in Cardiovascular Rehabilitation—A Gender Perspective

Authors


Michael M. Berner, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Freiburg, Hauptstr. 5, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany. Tel: +49 761 270-6901; Fax: +49 761 270-6989; E-mail: michael.berner@uniklinik-freiburg.de

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  In the general population, studies indicate a strong association between sexual dysfunction and partnership quality. Despite a high prevalence of sexual problems in patients with cardiovascular diseases, this association has not yet been examined in this sample.

Aim.  The central task of this paper is to determine the association between sexual dysfunction and quality of partnership under a gender-specific view.

Methods.  A written survey was handed out to all newly admitted patients in five participating inpatient rehabilitation centers for cardiovascular diseases in Germany. The survey included a gender-specific questionnaire to assess sexual functioning (International Index of Erectile Function for men, and Female Sexual Function Index for women), and a Partnership Questionnaire.

Main Outcome Measures.  Correlations were calculated between sexual function and relationship satisfaction, and differences between groups (cardiovascular diseased men and women with and without sexual problems) were tested using covariance analyses.

Results.  Overall, 44.3% of 98 female participants and 52.7% of 395 male participants stated to have at least one sexual problem. Patients with sexual problems showed significantly more quarrelling (P = 0.001), significantly less tenderness (P < 0.001), communication (P < 0.001), as well as significantly lower overall quality of partnership (P < 0.001), compared with cardiac men and women without sexual problems. Suffering from a sexual problem impaired partnership quality for women to a significantly greater extent than for men.

Conclusions.  Possible shortcomings of our study are selection bias, i.e., it is unknown whether all newly admitted patients received the questionnaire by their physician, as well as an overall low response rate, probably because of the private character of questions. This study suggests for the first time that men and women who suffer from cardiovascular diseases and sexual problems show a significantly decreased partnership satisfaction compared with those without sexual dysfunction. Further longitudinal studies might confirm the causal nature of found correlations. Günzler C, Kriston L, Harms A, Berner MM, and the members of the Sexuality of Patients in Rehabilitation of Cardiovascular Diseases study group. Association of sexual functioning and quality of partnership in patients in cardiovascular rehabilitation—A gender perspective. J Sex Med 2009;6:164–174.

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