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Sexual Functioning and the Effect of Fatigue in Traumatic Brain Injury

Goldin, Yelena PhD; Cantor, Joshua B. PhD, ABPP; Tsaousides, Theodore PhD, ABPP; Spielman, Lisa PhD; Gordon, Wayne A. PhD, ABPP

Section Editor(s): Caplan, Bruce PhD, ABPP; Bogner, Jennifer PhD, ABPP; Brenner, Lisa PhD, ABPP

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: September/October 2014 - Volume 29 - Issue 5 - p 418–426
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e31829cf76d
Original Articles

Objectives: The primary objective was to examine specific aspects of sexual functioning (frequency, desired frequency, importance, and satisfaction) and their relationship to fatigue in individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) compared with those without brain injury. The relationship of demographic variables, emotional well-being, and health-related quality of life to sexual functioning was also explored.

Participants: 200 community-dwelling adults with self-reported mild-to-severe TBI and 83 individuals without brain injury.

Measures: Participation Objective, Participation Subjective, Fatigue Assessment Instrument, Global Fatigue Index, Beck Depression Inventory, and SF-36 Health Survey.

Methods: Data were collected through administration of self-report measures and interviews as part of a larger study of post–TBI fatigue.

Results: Several aspects of sexual activity (frequency, desired frequency, and importance) were closely related to specific features of fatigue among individuals with TBI. Women with TBI reported lower frequency and lower importance of sex than men. In individuals without brain injury, the impact of fatigue was limited to the frequency of sexual activity with no sex differences observed.

Conclusions: Fatigue plays a different role in the subjective experience of sexual activity for men and women with TBI than for those without brain injuries. Fatigue and sex should be taken into account in future research and interventions focused on sexual function after TBI.

Cognitive Rehabilitation Department, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, Edison, New Jersey (Dr Goldin); and Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York (Drs Cantor, Tsaousides, Spielman, and Gordon).

Corresponding Author: Yelena Goldin, PhD, Cognitive Rehabilitation Department, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute, 2048 Oak Tree Road, Edison, NJ 08820 (

This study was supported by grant H133A020501 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, United States Department of Education.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins