Objective: To investigate longitudinal changes in sexual functioning during the first year following moderate to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Participants: 182 persons (53 women and 129 men) with moderate to severe TBI who were admitted to 1 of 6 participating TBI Model System centers and followed in the community at 6 and 12 months after injury.
Main Measures: Derogatis Interview for Sexual Functioning—Self-Report (DISF-SR); Global Sexual Satisfaction Index (GSSI).
Results: Mean T-scores on the DISF-SR Arousal subscale demonstrated marginal improvement over time, with a 2.59-point increase (P = .05) from 6 to 12 months after injury. There were no significant differences over this 6-month period on the remaining DISF-SR subscales, including sexual cognition/fantasy, sexual behavior/experience, and orgasm. There was no significant change in satisfaction with sexual functioning on the GSSI from 6 months (72% satisfied) to 12 months (71% satisfied).
Conclusions and Implications: Sexual function and satisfaction appears to be stable in those with moderate to severe TBI from 6 to 12 months after injury, with the exception of minimal improvement in arousal. These findings, to our knowledge, reflect the first evidence regarding prospective changes in sexual functioning in this population. Future research can go far to assist clinicians in treatment planning and managing patient expectations of recovery of sexual functioning after TBI.