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Sexual and Relationship Satisfaction among Persons with Young-Onset Parkinson's Disease


Catherine L. Wielinski, MPH, Struthers Parkinson's Center, Park Nicollet Health Services, 6701 Country Club Drive, Golden Valley, MI 55427, USA. Tel: +952-993-5495; Fax: +952-993-2250; E-mail:


Introduction.  Parkinson's disease (PD) presents unique personal and social challenges, particularly for those with onset before the age of 50 years.

Aim.  The aim of this article is to evaluate sexual and non-sexual aspects of relationship satisfaction among persons with young-onset PD and their partners.

Main Outcome Measures.  The main outcome measures were Index of Sexual Satisfaction (ISS) and Golombok–Rust Inventory of Marital State (GRIMS).

Methods.  Persons with PD (PWP) and partners who attended the 2005 National Parkinson Foundation Young Onset Network Conference were asked to complete a survey. Each survey included demographics, a clinical history questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), ISS, and GRIMS.

Results.  Sixty PWP (63% men, 85% in a relationship) responded to the survey. Median age was 50 years (range 29–62), with a median age at symptom onset of 43 years (range 17–55). ISS scores indicated clinically significant sexual dissatisfaction in 37%. Relationship dissatisfaction measured by the GRIMS was scored as “poor” or worse in 57%. Depressive symptomatology was severe in 19% and mild in 33%. Sexual dissatisfaction (ISS) correlated with relationship dissatisfaction (GRIMS) (correlation coefficient [CC] = 0.58, P < 0.001). Relationship dissatisfaction (GRIMS) correlated with depressive symptomatology (BDI) (CC = 0.38, P = 0.007). No correlations were found with any demographic or disease characteristics. Thirty-two couples (both the PWP and their partner) completed the surveys. Sexual and relationship dissatisfaction among PWP paralleled that of their partner (ISS: CC = 0.48, P = 0.005; GRIMS: CC = 0.61, P < 0.001). Depressive symptomatology of the PWP correlated with their partners' relationship dissatisfaction (CC = 0.46, P = 0.010).

Conclusions.  In this study, sexual and relationship dissatisfaction were prevalent among young-onset PD patients. PD patients were similar to their partners in their level of sexual and relationship dissatisfaction. The degree of dissatisfaction did not correlate with demographics or self-reported disease characteristics. Self-reported depressive symptomatology among PD patients was adversely associated with both their and their partner's relationship satisfaction. Wielinski CL, Varpness SC, Erickson-Davis C, Paraschos AJ, and Parashos SA. Sexual and relationship satisfaction among persons with young-onset Parkinson's disease. J Sex Med 2010;7:1438–1444.