Social Functioning

Sexual Problems Measures

Published in: Measuring Functioning and Well-Being: The Medical Outcomes Study Approach / edited by Anita L. Stewart and John E. Ware, Jr., (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1992), Chapter 11, p. 194-204

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1992

by Cathy D. Sherbourne

Sexual functioning is commonly defined by sexual problems and dysfunction. The MOS limited the definition to include any impairment of the capacity of an adult man or woman to achieve sexual arousal and orgasm. Types of dysfunctions are erectile dysfunction or retrograde ejaculation in the male, vaginal infections or dyspareunia in the female, and inadequate sexual interest or sexual pleasure in the male and the female. Two basic issues were addressed in developing a measure of sexual functioning for MOS: identifying specific sexual problems that could be caused by the four chronic MOS conditions or that might result from intervention and treatments of those conditions; and practical issues related to how best to word the sexual problem items, the appropriate response format to use, and how to deal with persons who did not have a partner or sexual encounter during the time frame of interest. MOS was interested in assessing general sexual problems and wanted to identify problems across conditions. Therefore, rather than asking if there was a problem, items asked the degree to which sexual problems bother the subject or cause distress. A mean sexual problem score was calculated from people with a major medical condition without depression; with both a major medical condition and depression; and with major depression but no medical condition. Scores were lowest for patients with a medical condition but no depression, and highest for depressed patients. For the future, MOS recommends including a number of other items to increase the ability to detect differences (e.g., separate items for obtaining and maintaining an erection, difficulty in ejaculation).

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