A self-report-based study of the incidence and associations of sexual dysfunction in survivors of intensive care treatment
Objectives: To determine the incidence and associations of sexual dysfunction in survivors of intensive care unit treatment in their first year after hospital discharge using a self-report measure. Design: A prospective observational study. Setting: ICU Follow-up Clinic, The Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. Subjects: One hundred and twenty-seven patients aged 18 years and over who spent 3 days or more in the intensive care unit. Main outcome measures: Demographic data; reported incidence of sexual dysfunction and post-traumatic stress disorder symptomatology; association between reported sexual dysfunction and age, gender, post-traumatic stress disorder symptomatology and length of intensive care unit stay; patient and partner satisfaction with current sex life. Results: Fifty-two patients (43.6%) reported symptoms of sexual dysfunction. There was a significant association between sexual dysfunction and post-traumatic stress disorder symptomatology (p = 0.019). There was no association between reported sexual dysfunction and gender (p = 0.33), age (p = 0.8) or intensive care unit length of stay (p = 0.41). Forty-five per cent of patients and 40% of partners were not satisfied with their current sex life. No other medical practitioner had sought symptoms of sexual dysfunction during the study period. Conclusions: Symptoms of sexual dysfunction are common in patients recovering from critical illness and appear to be significantly associated with the presence of post-traumatic stress disorder symptomatology. The intensive care unit follow-up clinic is a suitable forum for the screening and referral of patients with sexual dysfunction. © Springer-Verlag 2005.