Accessibility navigation

"You feel a bit unsexy sometimes": the psychosocial impact of a spinal cord injury on sexual function and sexual satisfaction

Barrett, O. E. C., Mattacola, E. ORCID: and Finlay, K. A. ORCID: (2023) "You feel a bit unsexy sometimes": the psychosocial impact of a spinal cord injury on sexual function and sexual satisfaction. Spinal Cord, 61. pp. 51-56. ISSN 1476-5624

Text (Open access) - Published Version
· Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

To link to this item DOI: 10.1038/s41393-022-00858-y


Study design A qualitative, semi-structured interview design. Objectives This study aimed to identify, from the perspective of people living with a Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), the primary psychosocial barriers and facilitators that impact on their sexual function and sexual satisfaction post-injury. Setting Community-dwelling sample of people with SCI in England, United Kingdom Methods Semi-structured interviews with twenty people with SCI (15 males; 5 females) were conducted using an 8-item interview schedule. Inductive thematic analysis was undertaken of verbatim transcripts coded using Braun and Clarke’s (2021) six phases of thematic analysis. Results Six inductive themes were generated, collectively describing the psychosocial barriers and facilitators impacting on sexual function and satisfaction post-SCI: (1) Internalising societal views and stigmatisation; (2) Diminished sexual confidence; (3) Navigating communication; (4) Managing relationship dynamics; (5) Lack of sexual support provision; and (6) Intervention development recommendations. Conclusion Sexual function and satisfaction are highly challenging areas of rehabilitation for males and females living with SCI. Increased efforts are needed to educate others in society to overcome the negative stereotypical attitudes obstructing acceptance of sex despite disability. Countering sexual stigmatisation for people with SCI would facilitate growth in sexual confidence. Techniques to enhance interpersonal sexual communication and involve the partner/spouse in regaining mutual sexual satisfaction are foundational. The current study highlighted key outpatient-based recommendations for intervention development, clarifying primary targets for future SCI-focused sexual therapeutic work.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:108527


Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation