Efficacy of Psychosocial Interventions in Men and Women with Sexual Dysfunctions—A Systematic Review of Controlled Clinical Trials

Part 1—The efficacy of psychosocial interventions for male sexual dysfunction


  • Michael Berner MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Rhein-Jura-Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Bad Säckingen, Germany; and Section for Sexual Medicine, German Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (DGPPN), Berlin, Germany
    2. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
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  • Cindy Günzler PhD

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
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Michael M. Berner, MD, Rhein-Jura-Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Schneckenhalde 13, D-79713 Bad Säckingen, Germany. Tel: +49 7761 56000; Fax: +49 7761 5600165; E-mail: dr.m.berner@rhein-jura-klinik.de


Introduction.  As yet, a summary of research evidence concerning the efficacy of psychological treatment in male sexual dysfunction is lacking.

Aim.  Our systematic review gives an overview of the efficacy of psychosocial interventions in all male sexual dysfunctions.

Main Outcome Measures.  Main outcome measures included, for example, psychometrically validated scales, interviews, and clinical assessment by an independent rater. The efficacy of psychosocial interventions was measured, for example, by the frequency of and satisfaction with sexual activity and sexual functioning.

Methods.  The systematic literature search included electronic database search, handsearch, contact with experts, and an ancestry approach. Studies were included if the man was given a formal diagnosis of a sexual dysfunction (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems [ICD10/-9]; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM-IV/-III-R]) and when the intervention was psychosocial or psychotherapeutic. The control group included either another treatment or a waiting-list control group. The report of relevant outcomes was necessary for inclusion as well as the design of the study (randomized controlled trials [RCTs] and controlled clinical trials [CCTs]). The assessment of methodological quality comprised aspects of randomization, blinding, incomplete outcome data, selective reporting, and allegiance.

Results.  We identified 19 RCTs and one CCT that investigated the efficacy in male sexual dysfunction and two further studies that examined male and female sexual dysfunction together. Twelve out of 20 trials in men used either a concept derived from Masters and Johnson or a cognitive-behavioral treatment program. Overall, psychosocial interventions improved sexual functioning. While one study found that psychotherapy is superior to sildenafil, another study found the opposite. In men with premature ejaculation, behavioral techniques proved to be effective. A shortcoming was the rather low methodological quality of included studies.

Conclusions.  Most of the compared interventions proved to be similarly effective. Possibly, there are underlying constructs throughout all therapies that have an effect on the outcome. Berner M and Günzler C. Efficacy of psychosocial interventions in men and women with sexual dysfunctions—A systematic review of controlled clinical trials. J Sex Med 2012;9:3089–3107.