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An Exploration of the Lived Experiences of Sexual Function and Satisfaction in Adult Males Following Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury
AuthorDrake, Derek S.
AdvisorDeBoor, Stephanie S.
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Injury to the spinal cord is devastating, leading to permanent, debilitating, and life altering injuries that can be fatal in some instances. Research suggests there are approximately 250,000 people living in the United States with some form of spinal cord injury (SCI) with approximately 11,000 new cases occurring annually. Men are four times more likely than women to sustain a spinal cord injury and account for 82% of those injured. Spinal cord injuries have significant impact on the individual's physical, emotional, and sexual wellbeing. Studies evaluating sexual activity potentiality in males with SCI date back to 1948 where Munro and associates completed extensive research on the sexual function of 84 paraplegic men injured in World War II. Since the earliest studies, regaining sexual function has consistently been identified as the highest priority for individuals with SCI, ranking above improving bowel and bladder function, extremity function, independence, and performing activities of daily living. Approximately 42% of men living with SCI are dissatisfied with their sexual lifestyle, and nearly 50% experience feelings of sexual inadequacy. More importantly, studies show that the vast majority of persons with SCI never discussed their sexual concerns with health providers, and 90% of these individuals had unrealistic expectations of sexual function and satisfaction. However, there is a paucity of research found within the literature regarding sexual function and satisfaction in individuals with SCI. The purpose of this phenomenological inquiry was to explore, describe and gain a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of adult males regarding sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction following spinal cord injury. Utilizing Heidegger's seven concepts of qualitative inquiry, this research will contribute to the current literature. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit participants. A total of eight participants were recruited for this study, six of which completed the study. Face-to-face, audio-taped interviews were conducted. Finally, Diekelmann and colleagues 7-step approach was utilized to analyze the data. Seven main themes and two subthemes were identified throughout the interviews to produce the overall essence.