Measuring sexual function in community surveys: development of a conceptual framework

Mitchell, K. R. and Wellings, K. (2013) Measuring sexual function in community surveys: development of a conceptual framework. Journal of Sex Research, 50(1), pp. 17-28. (doi: 10.1080/00224499.2011.621038) (PMID:22047590)

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Among the many psychometric measures of sexual (dys)function, none is entirely suited to use in community surveys. Faced with the need to include a brief and non-intrusive measure of sexual function in a general population survey, a new measure was developed. Findings from qualitative research with men and women in the community designed to inform the conceptual framework for this measure are presented. Thirty-two semi-structured interviews with individuals recruited from a general practice, an HIV/AIDS charity, and a sexual problems clinic were conducted. From their accounts, 31 potential criteria of a functional sex life were identified. Using evidence from qualitative data and the existing literature, and applying a set of decision rules, the list was reduced to 13 (eight for those not in a relationship), and a further eight criteria were added to enable individuals to self-rate their level of function and indicate the severity of difficulties. These criteria constitute a conceptual framework that is grounded in participant perceptions; is relevant to all, regardless of sexual experience or orientation; provides opportunity to state the degree of associated distress; and incorporates relational, psychological, and physiological aspects. It provides the conceptual basis for a concise and acceptable measure of sexual function.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mitchell, Professor Kirstin
Authors: Mitchell, K. R., and Wellings, K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Journal of Sex Research
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):1559-8519

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