Chronic Disease and Sexuality: A Generic Conceptual Framework

Jesse E. A. Verschuren, Paul Enzlin*, Pieter U. Dijkstra, Jan H. B. Geertzen, Rienk Dekker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

102 Citations (Scopus)


Although sexual dysfunctions are frequently comorbid with many chronic diseases and their treatments, until recently, these dysfunctions have been neglected in both research and clinical practice. Fortunately, sexual functioning in the context of chronic disease has now begun to receive more scientific attention. Studies in the field are, however, quite diverse in terms of topics and methodology, not only making comparisons across studies on a single disease difficult, but also making comparisons across different diseases impossible. In an attempt to inspire researchers, this article presents a "generic'' conceptual framework regarding the impact of chronic diseases (and their treatments) on sexual function. The major goals of this conceptual framework are to provide an in-depth analysis of, and insight into, the process by which disease-related psychological and relational factors impact the sexual functioning and well-being of patients, their partners, and their relationships. Some of the associations within the conceptual framework have already been supported by the results of empirical studies on various diseases. This review ends with an overview of the limitations of previous research, proposes a research agenda for the field, and presents a research tool that may be helpful in developing new studies investigating the association between chronic diseases and sexuality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-170
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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