Sexual Satisfaction and Risk of Disability in Older Women
J Clin Psychiatry 2003;64:1177-1182
© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Background: Most studies evaluating sexuality in
older adults have focused on men, and relatively little research
has evaluated the relationship between sexual satisfaction and
health outcomes in older women. The aims of this study were to
describe correlates of sexual satisfaction in community-dwelling
older women with moderate to severe levels of disability and to
examine the association of sexual satisfaction with progression
of disability in this population.
Method: A total of 980 moderately to severely
disabled women aged 65 years or older who had participated in The
Women's Health and Aging Study entered this study. Baseline
evaluations took place from 1992 through 1995. Participants rated
their satisfaction with their level of sexual activity on a
0-to-10 scale. Women scoring >= 8 were considered sexually
satisfied. The onset of new severe disability was determined by
semiannual assessments, over 3 years, of disability in performing
activities of daily living (ADLs) and walking across a room.
Results: Of 203 (49.8%) women living with a
spouse, 101 were satisfied with their level of sexual activity.
In this group, older age, white race, and higher level of
physical function were independent predictors of sexual
satisfaction. In addition, among women living with a spouse,
higher sexual satisfaction was associated with a significantly
decreased risk for incident disability in performing ADLs (hazard
ratio [HR] = 0.58, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.36 to 0.94)
and walking across a small room (HR = 0.38, 95% CI = 0.18 to
0.79). Among women not living with a spouse, the response on the
sexual satisfaction question showed different determinants and
was not associated with disability risk.
Conclusion: Sexual satisfaction in
community-dwelling, older, disabled women living with their
spouse is associated with reduced risk for subsequent
new severe disabilities.