Lifetime Sexual Behavior of Psychiatric Inpatients


Miguel Angel Gonzalez-Torres, MD, Neurosciences, University of the Basque Country, Basurto Hospital, Psychiatry Service, Avenida de Montevideo 18, Bilbao 48013, Spain. Tel: 34-944006066; Fax: 34-944006213; E-mail:


Introduction.  Sexual life of psychiatric patients, including risk behaviors related to sexually transmitted diseases, remains a poorly studied area, especially in those with severe mental illnesses.

Aims.  To assess some aspects of lifetime sexual behavior of psychiatric inpatients.

Methods.  Patients consecutively admitted to a psychiatric unit in a general hospital were interviewed about partner-related lifetime sexual behavior.

Main Outcome Measures.  A semi-structured interview developed by the authors was used to collect information concerning their general sexual experience throughout life, homosexual and heterosexual relations, and relations with partners who were intravenous drug users (IVDU), HIV carriers or suffering from AIDS, and with sex workers. In each of these areas, time elapsed since last sexual contact; number of partners in previous year, frequency of these relations and condom use were investigated.

Results.  Five hundred forty-six patients (306 men and 240 women) were assessed, and 87.7% of them reported sexual relations at some point during their life. Of these, 90% reported heterosexual and 10% homosexual or bisexual sexual contacts. Further, 11.06% had had at least one partner who was an IVDU; 8.1% an HIV-positive partner, and 32.4% (50% of the men) had paid for sex. Overall 49.79% of the total sample reported never using condoms in their sexual relations, with similar percentages for those with HIV-positive (46%) and IVDU (47%) partners. Of those who paid for sex, 29% never used condoms.

Conclusions.  Psychiatric patients admitted to a general hospital psychiatric unit have sexual experience close to the general population, with a higher percentage of homosexual contacts and lower rates of condom use, even in higher risk situations, such as men having sex with men, and partners who are HIV-positive or IVDUs. This information obliges clinicians to systematically explore the sexual behavior of psychiatric patients, evaluate risk behaviors, and adopt measures to promote safe sex practices in this population. Gonzalez-Torres MA, Salazar MA, Inchausti L, Ibañez B, Pastor J, Gonzalez G, Carvajal MJ, Fernandez-Rivas A, Madrazo A, Ruiz E, and Basterreche E. Lifetime sexual behavior of psychiatric inpatients. J Sex Med 2010;7:3045–3056.