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Race, sexual desire, sexual activity and sexual satisfaction among older adults

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2011
Dissertation
Author: Tracee N Moore
Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the relationship between sexual desire, sexual activity and sexual satisfaction within an older adult population. This study sought to determine which variables had a significant influence on the overall sexual satisfaction among older adults. The lack of research and knowledge in the area of sexual behaviors and patterns of the older adult population has permeated a negative connotation in our society. Further explored were the influence of race and well-being and their impact on sexual desire, sexual activity and sexual satisfaction. The primary hypothesis for this investigation examined the differences in predictive variables across races, age cohorts and genders as measured by Sexual Activities: Interest, Participation, and Satisfaction by Johnson (1986), the Sexual Desire Inventory (SDI-2) by Spector, Carey & Steinberg (1998), the Index of Sexual Satisfaction (ISS) developed by Hudson (1998), and the Perceived Well-Being Scale (PWB) designed by Reker & Wong (1984). It was also hypothesized that high levels of overall life satisfaction and perceived positive well-being would demonstrate a significant relationship with sexual desire, sexual activity and overall sexual satisfaction. The sample included 191 men and women over the age of 50 years located in the southern region of the United States. Results indicated significant correlations among psychological well-being, solitary sexual desire, interest in sexual activity, the presence of mental health problems and satisfaction with current sexual activities. These findings provide opportunities for positive social change in viewing sexuality, the sexual behaviors and sexual patterns of older adults as an important component of quality of life throughout the entire lifespan. Recommendations for future research are suggested.

TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE

LIST OF TABLES………………………………………………………………… x

I. INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………… 1

Statement of the Problem……………………………………………… 6 Purpose of the Study…………………………………………………… 6 Research Questions…………………………………………………… 7 Definition of Terms…………………………………………………… 8

II. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE……………………………………… 10

Gaps in the Current Literature………………………………………… 10 Associated Components of Sexual Desire, Activity, and Satisfaction… 12 Biological………………………………………………………… 12 Psychological…………………………………………………… 14 Gender…………………………………………………………… 15 Social/Psychosocial……………………………………………… 17 Cultural Environmental…………………………………………… 19

Relevant and Associated Theories for Geriatric Sexual Activity……… 20 Figure 1. Conceptual Framework for Geriatric Sexuality Breakdown Syndrome…………………………………… 23

III. METHOD……………………………………………………………… 24

Participants…………………………………………………………… 24 Instruments…………………………………………………………… 25 Informed Consent………………………………………………… 25 Demographic Questionnaire……………………………………… 25 Sexual Activities: Interest, Participation and Satisfaction………… 25 Sexual Desire Inventory-2………………………………………… 26 Index of Sexual Satisfaction……………………………………… 27 Perceived Well-Being Scale……………………………………… 27 Procedures……………………………………………………………… 28

ix

Study Design………………………… …………………………….…… 29 Hypotheses………………………………………………….………….. 30

IV. RESULTS………………………………………………………………… 32

Descriptive Statistics…………………………………………………… 34 Results of Individual Hypotheses……………………………………… 38 Hypothesis 1…………………………………………………… 38 Hypothesis 2…………………………………………………… 40 Hypothesis 3…………………………………………………… 41 Hypothesis 4…………………………………………………… 43 Hypothesis 5…………………………………………………… 43 Hypothesis 6…………………………………………………… 46 Hypothesis 7…………………………………………………… 48 Hypothesis 8…………………………………………………… 49

V. DISCUSSION……………………………………………………………… 54

Impact of Clinical Setting……………………………………………… 57 Limitations of the Study…………………………………………… ..… 57 Future Directions…………………………………………………….… 58 Conclusions………………………………………………………….… 59

REFERENCES……………………………………………………………….…… 60

APPENDICES……………………………………………………………….….… 70

APPENDIX A: TSU IRB Approval Letter………………………………... 70 APPENDIX B: Cover Letter and Informed Consent……………………… 72 APPENDIX C: Demographic Sheet…………………………………….… 76 APPENDIX D: Sexual Activities: Interest, Participation, and Satisfaction Scale………………………….………… 80 APPENDIX E: Sexual Desire Inventory-2……………………………...… 84 APPENDIX F: Index of Sexual Satisfaction……………………………… 88 APPENDIX G: Perceived Well-Being Scale……………………………… 90 APPENDIX H: Participant Recruitment Flyer………………………..…… 92

x

LIST OF TABLES TABLE PAGE 1.

Descriptive Statistics of the Variables…………………………………… 33 2. Frequency Distributions of Education Level of Participants……………… 34 3. Intercorrelations Among All Variables ……………………………… … 36 4. Summary of Multiple Regression Analyses for Variables Influencing Life Satisfaction…………………………………………….. 37 5.

Race Differences in Older Adults’ Life Satisfaction, Perceived

Well-Being, Sexual Desire, Sexual Activity and Sexual Satisfaction

…………………………

……………………………………

39 6.

Gender Differences in Older Adults’ Life Satisfaction, Perceived

Well-Being, Sexual Desire, Sexual Activity and Sexual Satisfaction

…………………………

……………………………………

40 7.

Summary of Multiple Regression Analyses for Variables Influencing Sexual Desire ... ……… ………………….………………… 45 8.

Summary of Multiple Regression Analyses for Variables Influencing Sexual Activity………………………….…………………… 47 9.

Summary of Multiple Regression Analyses for Variables Influencing Perceived Well-Being…………………….…………………… 49 10. Summary of the Revised Hierarchical Regression Analyses for Variables

Influencing Sexual Satisfaction…………………….……………………… 53

CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION The United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration Agency on Aging (AoA) reported that the elderly are not only living longer, they m ake up the fastest growing portion of the population worldwide. The agency further reported that the older population-persons 65 years or older numbered 40.2 million in 2010, with a projection of 72.1 million by 2030. The current numbers represent 12.9% of the U.S. population, about one in every eight Americans. Despite the rapid growth of this population, little is known about the sexual desires, sexual activity or sexual sati sfaction of older people. Society’s current view of the older adult population as either being sexually uninterested, incapable or asexual is not only stereotypical, but has dimi nutive empirical grounding (Hinchliff & Gott, 2008). What is known, however, is that a person does experience specific changes in sexual response as he or she ages; but t o whom, when and why these changes occur varies widely. Some changes may be linked to medications or chronic illness; others may be associated with psychological expectations or the aging process itself (Reinisch, 1990). The current literature either limits the age and number of older participants t o include those in middle adulthood (45-54 years), or excludes the older population altogether in their studies (Michael et al. 1990). A study by the University o f Chicago

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(1989) on adult sexual behavior only included adults between the ages of 18 and 59, based on the assumptions mentioned above that sexual behaviors decline with age. Even one of the largest contemporary studies on sexuality (Michael et al. 1990) worked wit h participants who were aged 60 and younger. Other comparable studies with the same focus are either too small to have significant results, or are qualitative by d esign. Furthermore, most of the current research tends to look at sexuality from a biome dical perspective that is more concerned with sexual dysfunction, and many experts propos e that health issues are key deterrents to limited sexual activity in advancin g age (Laumann et al., 2005, DeLamater & Sill, 2005). Within the last decade the medical advances to improve the continuation and revival of sexual functioning has grown considerably. This is evidenced by the ne w wave of sexual enhancing medications (e.g. Cialis, Viagra, Levitra) and new tre atments that are designed to improve sexual performance (e.g. surgical implants). The Americ an Association of Retired Persons (AARP) 2004 study, ”Sexuality at Midlife and B eyond” (an updated AARP survey from 1999), reported that more than twice as many men as i n 1999 reported ever using some type of medication or treatment to address problems w ith sexual performance (22%, up from 10% in 1999). Most recently, The New England Journal of Medicine’s study on sexuality among older adults in the United States (2007)

reported that nearly one-in-seven men reported taking medication to improve sexual function (p. 8). What these and other biomedical studies do not account for are the psychological aspects (such as emotional problems or lack of desire) that may a lso be affecting sexual functioning. The lack of reliable information about how sexual desi res,

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activity and behaviors may change with age, combined with societal taboos that i nhibit the ability to discuss issues related to sex in later life, contributes to the hol es in the current research. Ground-breaking studies in human sexuality (e.g., Kinsey, et al., 1948, 1953; Masters & Johnson, 1966, 1970; Janus & Janus, 1993) that were, and to a lesser degree still are, branded as taboo research topics have spawned controversy and curios ity regarding this topic but have provided little information about the current, older and growing population. These studies only offer a historical view of sexuality of olde r adults and have rarely been challenged. Early research findings by Kinsey, Pomeroy , Martin, and Gebhard, P.H. (1953) proclaimed sexual activities performed by women when they are alone level off and then decline after age 55 (Kinsey, et al., 1953, p. 353). Furthermore, Kinsey thought that a woman’s level of sexual activity was solel y dependent on the man’s sexual behavior (p. 354), statements that not only may not be true in the present time, but may also be considered controversial. Following Kinsey’s investigation Masters and Johnson conducted their own research into sexual behavior. Receiving very little support from the professiona l communities, Masters and Johnson conducted an ongoing study during the years of 1954- 1966 entitled Human Sexual Response. In their report, the authors studied the anatomy and physiology of human sexual response in order to address the fears, curiosities , and stereotypes related to this subject. Secondarily, their research was oriente d toward the provision of adequate data from which therapists could begin to formulate approaches to the treatment of human sexual inadequacy. More currently, findings by Brick and

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Lunquist (2003) suggest that in order to demystify sexuality and aging, as well as

negative social attitudes of sexuality for older adults, there is not only a pro found need to help older people become more comfortable with sexuality and aging, but there is also a need to educate caregivers and providers about this topic. In their 2007 study, Lindau et al. completed the first comprehensive national survey of sexual attitudes, behavior s and problems among older adults in the United States. Using data previously collecte d by the University of Chicago’s National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP), the researchers found sexuality to be an integral part of life to adults ages 57 to 85. Additionally, although the findings from the study suggest that sexual activit y declines with age, the study also showed that both men and women continue to participate in vaginal intercourse, oral sex and masturbation well into their 70’s and 80’s (p. 31). The correlation between sexual activity and overall health was also noted in the study . For many of the women participants, as health began to decline during their early 70’s, s o did the prevalence of sexual activit y . The authors do note that as people age, the likelihood of sexual problems increases and therefore it is natural that sexual activity would then decline. Sadly, both the lack of supportive responses from the psychological science communities for projects of this nature and the knowledge of appropriate strategies

to use with clients during Masters and Johnson’s time, can still be echoed today. Current literature (Laumann et al., 2008; Wincze & Carey, 2001),

purports that a primary goal for researchers is to better prepare therapists and providers to deal with issues surrounding sexual dysfunction, versus sexuality and the overarching components of sexual heal th,

5

with older adults. Because Masters and Johnson’s primary focus was on common health problems related to sexual functioning, their studies did not present information on the actual incidence of continued interest, activity or level of satisfaction of the aging adult. Regardless of the shortcomings in both Kinsey’s and Masters and Johnson’s studies, the y both hold as the standards for research on the topic of sex and sexuality and provided a gateway for future research within this area. Research to date has neglected to identify sexual satisfaction as a compone nt of quality of life. For example, Coke (1992) examined the correlates of life sat isfaction among older African Americans. The sample consisted of 166 African Americans ranging in age from 65 to 88 years (87 men and 79 women). The author included self- rated health, self-perceived adequacy of income, weekly hours of participation i n church activities, and family role involvement as predictors of overall life satisf action. Unfortunately, no categorical information pertaining to sexuality was include d in the variables or addressed in her findings. Farquhar’s (1995) study and Wilhelmenson et al .’s (2005) study both defined and measured the concept of quality of life within the older adult population. The aim of both studies was to investigate what older people consider to be important for their quality of life. Farquhar’s study focused on different age c ohorts and what each cohort considered components of quality life beyond health. Along the same lines, Wilhelmenson et al.’s study revealed that social relations, heal th, activities, functional abilities, well-being, personal beliefs and attitudes, their own home s and personal finances were the primary categories that aggregate elders’ quality of life. Although the authors of both studies concluded that social relations, functional ability

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and activities influence the quality of life among older adults, variables rel ating to sexual activity were not included in either study. Statement of the Problem In order to achieve a comprehensive understanding of the aging process, looking at sexuality as an integral component of quality of life throughout the life spa n is essential to appreciating and effectively treating this age group. Moreover , very few theories related to this specific issue have been presented in order to help conceptual ize, explain, or predict the sexual behaviors and patterns of older adults. Riley, Johnson’s, & Foner’s Age Stratification Theory (1972) is perhaps one of the well known theories t hat examines age cohorts and their respective characteristics throughout the li fe cycle. This theory discussed the influence society has on older adults and the interconnection between the two. Concepts from this theory state that the interaction between agi ng people and society is dynamic and that both the individual and society are in constant flux. However, one of the theory’s limitations is that it fails to address detai ls on individual, everyday sexual interactions in older age. Nonetheless, the role that sex plays throughout the aging process or how society may impact aging cohorts was not mentioned. Purpose of the Study The primary purpose of this study is to explore the relationships between sexual desire, sexual activity and sexual satisfaction within an older adult population. The significance of the study will be to provide research on older adults’ sexual des ire, sexual activities, and sexual satisfaction, and to provide an alternative to the view of the older

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aging population as either being sexually uninterested, incapable or asexual. For society to reconsider what we label as “normal” behaviors over the lifespan, sexuality s hould be included in this reconceptualization of norms. This study seeks to provide additional ways to positively support the older population with issues surrounding sex and sexuality.

Research Questions This study sought to determine the extent to which selected demographic variables in older aged adults predict sexual desire, activity and satisfac tion in men and women aged 50 and older, and which specific factors are associated with overall se xual satisfaction among participants. Additionally, this study seeks to make det erminations from the collected data as to the relationship between psychological well-be ing, life satisfaction and demographic variables and their impact on sexual desire, sexua l activity and sexual satisfaction. More specifically, the research questions to addres sed are as follows: 1.

What are the relationships between sexual desire, activity and satisfacti on of older adults? 2.

Are there gender and race differences on the sexual desire, sexual activit y, perceived well-being and sexual satisfaction of older adults? 3.

What variables influence sexual desire, sexual activity, and perceived well- being of older adults? 4.

Do sexual desire, perceived well-being and sexual activity influence sexua l satisfaction of older adults?

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Definition of Terms For the purpose of this research, the following terms will be used. Of note, this terminology has been considered offensive by many people (Polizzi & Millikin, 2002 Mautner, 2007) but is in no way meant to perpetuate the stereotypes that it is attem pting to abrogate. General well-being: “The composite of psychological and physical well-bei ng.” (Reker & Wong, 1984, p. 24) Older Adult:

a general term often used by society to describe those persons 65 years and older Older Cohort:

persons within the age range of 70-79 years (adapted from Garfein & Herzog, 1995) Oldest Cohort: persons aged 80 years and older (Garfein & Herzog, 1995). Oldest Old:

persons aged 85 years and older (Garfein & Herzog, 1995) Old Old:

persons within the age range of 75-84 years (Garfein & Herzog, 1995) Physical well-being: “Self-rated physical health and vitality coupl ed with perceived absence of physical discomforts” (Reker & Wong, 1984, p. 24). Psychological well-being: “The presence of positive emotions such as happines s, contentment, joy, and peace of mind and the absence of negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, and depression” (Reker & Wong, 1984, p. 24). Sexual Activity:

For the purpose of this study, sexual activity is defined as “any mutually voluntary activity with another person that involves sexual contact, whet her or not intercourse or orgasm occurs” (Laumann & Michael, 2001, p. 15). The term sexual

9

activity is further delineated into two categories: dyadic and solitary. Wher eby dyadic sexual activity involves the desire to behave sexually with another person and solit ary sexual activity involves the desire to behave sexually by oneself (Spector e t. al, pg. 182). Sexual Desire:

For the purpose of this study, sexual desire is defined as an interest in sexual activity. Sexual Satisfaction:

For the purpose of this study, sexual satisfaction is defined as “an affective response that arises from one’s subjective evaluation of the posi tive and negative dimensions that are associated with one’s sexual relationship” (Lawr ance & Byers, 1995, p. 268). Young Old:

persons within the age range of 65-74 years (Garfein & Herzog, 1995). Younger Cohort:

persons within the age range of 60-69 years (Garfein & Herzog, 1995). Youngest Cohort:

persons within the age range of 50-59 years (Garfein & Herzog, 1995). Youngest Old:

persons within the age range of 55-64 years (Garfein & Herzog, 1995).

CHAPTER II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Gaps in the Current Literature There appears to be a lack of information and understanding in the area of older adult sexual behavior beyond biomedical theories and treatments. Although people are living longer, little is known or understood about normal sexual development in the older population. To this end, there is a need for all practitioners to have a knowledge base about sexual characteristics of older age. It is imperative for practitione rs, health-care professionals, researchers and caretakers alike to understand sexuality as an important component of quality of life throughout the entire lifespan in order to provide the most comprehensive and appropriate treatments. In the field of psychology, most graduate training facilities do not offer ex clusive courses regarding sex and older adults with the exception of programs with gerontological specializations. The Directory of Predoctoral Internships w ith Clinical Geropsychology Training Opportunities and Postdoctoral Clinical Geropsychology

Fellowships (2007) identified only 65 pre-doctoral internship training programs (5.6% of the total number of training programs that are approved by the American Psychologi cal Association). The current posting in the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral a nd Internship Centers (APPIC) self-reported directory lists 85 of 657 internship tr aining

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sites (12.9%) that offer major rotations and specialty working with geriatr ic patients. Postdoctoral training programs listed in APPIC’s 2010 online directory for post- doctoral programs offer the greatest number of training opportunities listing 48 training s ites out of a total of 128 (37.5%). The lack of training in sexual behavior and expression was first noted by Indiana University zoology professor and researcher Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey in 1939. While gathering lecture materials to teach the first ever human sexuality course at Indiana University, Dr. Kinsey discovered the lack of scientific information on human sexual

behavior. Fourteen years and more than 17,500 surveys later, Kinsey’s first book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, was published in 1948 and was followed by his second book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, in 1953. Despite the fact that the books did not specifically focus on older adults, they informed Americans about the self-repo rted sexual thoughts, activities and behaviors of both men and women, inclusive of older adults, for the first time. Through observations, Masters and Johnson (1966) reported on the mechanics of sex and were pioneers in identifying and describing the human se xual response cycle. Their 1970’s work, Human Sexual Inadequacy, laid the groundwork for a greater part of today’s research on treating sexual dysfunction, as inform ation about older adults’ sexual inactivity is often associated with sexual dysfunction (De Lameter & Karraker, 2009; Laumann, Das, & Waite, 2008; Gentili & Mulligan, 1998 ) . However, more recent studies have focused beyond biological aspects and have begun to include social, cultural, psychological, environmental and gender-based aspects as contributors to decreased sexual activity in old age. Each of these aspects is briefly revie wed below.

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Associated Components of Sexual Desire, Activity and Satisfaction Biological. While contemporary researchers have a propensity to reporting that sexual activities only decline in older adults due to an increase in barriers as sociated with age and not as a direct result of their age (Gott & Hinchliff, 2003; Lindau et al., 2007), the majority of research tends to focus on the physiological and biological reas ons in sexual activities in the older population (Deacon, Minichiello, & Plummer, 1995;

Duffy, 1998; Laumann et al., 2005). These results are thereby suggesting that age is the primary barrier for sexual activity within this population. Subsequently, the major aim of t hese articles is to inform readers how to approach and treat sexual dysfunction, not atte nd to overall sexual health, within this specific population. Some research has shown a high correlation between sexual dysfunction, aging and sexual activity. Whether sexual dysfunction is attributable to age or disea se was studied by Camacho & Ortiz-Reyes (2005). The article links a number of disorders

(cardiovascular disease, diabetes lower urinary tract symptoms) and the medications used to treat these disorders, to sexual dysfunction in old age. The authors conclude that disease and functional decline account for decreased interest in sexual activi ty in the very old and offer advice on how to discuss aspects of sexual life with older adults. Gelfand (2000) supported the findings of Camacho & Ortiz-Reyes (2005) in terms of anatomic and age-related changes in the sexual response cycle by stating t hat hormonal changes, disease and associated medications negatively affect sexua lity (Gelfand, 2000, p.20). Chronic illness, mental illness and physical changes have all be en primarily linked to sexual dysfunction and therefore a reduction in sexual activi ty (Davies

13

et al., 1998; Duffy, 1998; Fukukawa et al., 2004) and lend additional support to the conceptualization of sexual dysfunction with the biomedical model. However, by sole ly using a disease-focused biomedical theory to show relationships between sexual dysfunction, sexual activity and age, individuals become inappropriately labeled by

society as pathological and dysfunctional (Working Group on a New View of Women’s Sexual Problems, 2000). Along the same lines, sexual dysfunction and sexual desire

disorders are rooted in biomedical research with the source of pathology being loca ted in the physical body. Ironically, even the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV-TR) overlooks contextual factors such as bod y image issues, other priorities, partners’ health status or occupation/vocation sa tisfaction that can potentially impact sexual activity as well. In August 2007, The New England Journal of Medicine composed a study on the sexuality and health among older adults in the United States (Laumann et al., 2008). In this study, the frequency of sexual activity reported by respondents who were s exually active was similar to that reported among adults 18 to 59 years old in the 1992 National

Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS). However, like much of the current res earch to date, their investigation only assessed the prevalence of specific sexual probl ems and the extent of those sexual problems with their participants. Gott & Hinchliff’s (2003) s tudy showed that sexual activity in older adults is not directly related to the overall i mportance of sex. This is of great significance because of previous and current assumptions a bout sex and the older aged population. Their finding proved that health related barriers w ere

14

not primary, as assumed. The authors also noted that other overlooked barriers included loss of interest and lack of privacy. Psychological. A number of present-day research findings on older adults’ decline or end to sexual activities focus on explanations outside of organic and medical causes. The New England Journal of Medicine’s 2007 report (Lindau et al.) concluded that lack of interest in sex (64% of female participants; 55% of male participant s) and sexual pain, not age, as reasons for sexual inactivity (p. 765). Furthermore, the r eport stated that of those among the oldest age group in their study (75-84 years), 54% re ported having coitus at least two to three times per month. The links between sexual dysfunction, poor emotional health and previous negative sexual experiences have also been researched (Laumann et al., 1999). Findings from this study further substantiate the argument that chronological age is not a primary indicator of level of sexual d ysfunction and consequently, sexual activity within the older adult population. This study also found that in addition to poor physical health, poor emotional health was correlated with sex ual dysfunction across genders. Among older adults, one’s satisfaction with emotional and physical aspects of the

relationship itself and the relative importance of sexuality in one’s life ar e also associated with sexual functioning (Laumann et al., 2006). Research results from Matthias, Lubbe n, Atchison, Schweitzer & Stuart (1997) showed a positive relationship between satis faction with sexual activity and having good mental health for both men and women. The participants consisted of over 1,200 men and women with a mean age of 77.3 years. In

15

the study, all participants with positive emotional well-being were found to be m ore satisfied sexually regardless of the amount or frequency of their sexual acti vity. Psychological issues are also decisive factors in sexual desire in late r life. Naturally, clinically-based diagnoses of a variety of cognitive disorders , mood and anxiety disorders were determined to be leading factors in sexual dysfunc tion at the outset, including depression, anxiety disorders, and dementia. Butler & Lewis’s ( 1988, 1993) research proposes that when a person is in reasonably good health and has a favorable attitude toward sex, he or she can expect to continue sexual activities until late in life. Gender. Men and women complete the sexual development cycle in many different ways and the realm of sexual dysfunction is no exception. Many studie s (Ard, 1977; Brown & Auerback, 1981; Julien, Bouchard, Gagnon, & Pomerleau, 1992; Baumeister, Catanese, &Vohs, 2001) have reported that men have a stronger desire for

and were engaged in more sexual activity than women. In 2005, Laumann, Nicolosi, Glasser, Paik, Gingell, Moreira and Wang conducted and reported the results of a s tudy titled The Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors (GSSAB). The GSSAB is known to be the first study of its kind to research the sexual relationships of people middle aged and older. Measured variables included participants’ beliefs, att itudes and health as they pertained to their sexual relationship (Laumann et al., 2005). Findings b y the GSSAB stated that increasing age and physical problems were more co nsistently associated with sexual problems among men (while marital status was the st rongest predictor of female inactivity, not biologically based sexual dysfunction). Re search

Full document contains 106 pages
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of the relationship between sexual desire, sexual activity and sexual satisfaction within an older adult population. This study sought to determine which variables had a significant influence on the overall sexual satisfaction among older adults. The lack of research and knowledge in the area of sexual behaviors and patterns of the older adult population has permeated a negative connotation in our society. Further explored were the influence of race and well-being and their impact on sexual desire, sexual activity and sexual satisfaction. The primary hypothesis for this investigation examined the differences in predictive variables across races, age cohorts and genders as measured by Sexual Activities: Interest, Participation, and Satisfaction by Johnson (1986), the Sexual Desire Inventory (SDI-2) by Spector, Carey & Steinberg (1998), the Index of Sexual Satisfaction (ISS) developed by Hudson (1998), and the Perceived Well-Being Scale (PWB) designed by Reker & Wong (1984). It was also hypothesized that high levels of overall life satisfaction and perceived positive well-being would demonstrate a significant relationship with sexual desire, sexual activity and overall sexual satisfaction. The sample included 191 men and women over the age of 50 years located in the southern region of the United States. Results indicated significant correlations among psychological well-being, solitary sexual desire, interest in sexual activity, the presence of mental health problems and satisfaction with current sexual activities. These findings provide opportunities for positive social change in viewing sexuality, the sexual behaviors and sexual patterns of older adults as an important component of quality of life throughout the entire lifespan. Recommendations for future research are suggested.