Research Reports - Multicenter study of sexual functioning in spouses/partners of persons with traumatic brain injury

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2016 Feb 1. pii: S0003-9993(16)00044-7. doi:
10.1016/j.apmr.2016.01.009. [Epub ahead of print]

Sander AM(1), Maestas KL(2), Pappadis MR(3), Hammond FM(4), Hanks RA(5); NIDILRR
Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems Module Project on Sexuality After TBI.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate sexual functioning and its predictors in
spouses/partners of persons with traumatic brain injury (TBI).
DESIGN: Inception cohort survey.
SETTING: Community.
PARTICIPANTS: Persons (N=70) with complicated mild to severe TBI admitted to 1 of
6 participating TBI Model Systems inpatient rehabilitation units and their
spouses/partners who were both living in the community and assessed 1 year after
injury.
INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Derogatis Interview for Sexual Functioning Self-Report;
Global Sexual Satisfaction Index.
RESULTS: Twenty percent of spouses/partners of persons with TBI reported sexual
dysfunction, and 44% reported dissatisfaction with sexual functioning. Sixty-two
percent of spouses/partners reported a decrease in sexual activity during the
year postinjury, 34% reported a decrease in sexual drive or desire, and 34%
indicated that sexuality was less important in comparison to preinjury. The
sexual functioning of spouses/partners of persons with TBI was highly associated
with the sexual functioning of the person with TBI. Age of spouses/partners and
sexual functioning in persons with the TBI were significant predictors of
spouses'/partners' sexual functioning, even after controlling for sex of partners
and the physical, cognitive, participation, and sexual functioning of the persons
with injury.
CONCLUSIONS: Greater sexual dysfunction in spouses/partners was associated with
older age and with poorer sexual functioning in the person with injury.
Rehabilitation professionals should provide education on the potential impact of
TBI on sexual functioning for both persons with TBI and their spouses/partners,
and integrate the assessment of sexual functioning into their clinical
assessment, making appropriate referrals for therapy. 

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