Sexual health is a complex and often overlooked aspect of overall health. As the entry point to the healthcare system, primary care is an ideal setting for identifying sexual health concerns, and integrated behavioral health providers (BHPs) can assist the primary care team with assessment and treatment. The objective of this study was to assess the prevalence and correlates of sexual dysfunction and examine preferences for discussing sexual problems in primary care. We conducted a cross-sectional survey of a random sample of Veteran primary care patients from 3 VA medical centers across Central and Western New York. Of 1500 surveys mailed, 313 were returned (21% response rate) and 248 had complete data for this analysis. Participants (M age=49 years, SD=13, range: 25-85) were mostly White (87%), female (61%), and married (79%). They completed a brief measure of sexual functioning (Arizona Sexual Experiences Scale) and items on preferences for discussing sexual health concerns. Half of the sample, 32% of men and 62% of women, screened positive on the ASEX for sexual dysfunction, with low sex drive being the most common issue. The odds of sexual dysfunction increased with age. Participants were more likely to agree that, if they were having sexual problems, they would want the primary care team to ask about it (66%) rather than wait until they brought the topic up on their won (33%). Most participants were willing (59% agreed and 27% were neutral) to meet with a BHP to discuss sexual dysfunction if their primary care team recommended it. The preferred format for help with sexual health concerns was a face-to-face meeting with the PCP (33%), followed by a face-to-face meeting with the BHP (17%). Findings suggest sexual dysfunction is common among Veteran primary care patients, especially women and older adults, and patients are receptive to being asked about and discussing sexual health concerns with their primary care team, including BHPs.
- State the prevalence of sexual dysfunction in a sample of primary care patients
- Describe patient preferences for discussing sexual health concerns
- Explain why the integrated primary care setting is well-suited for addressing sexual health concerns