Sexuality is an integral part of the human experience and healthy sexual functioning contributes to overall quality of life. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been documented as having a negative impact on sexual functioning, with problems noted in as many as 93% of persons with injury. Despite this, our understanding of the incidence of sexual problems and appropriate treatment options has been hampered by the limited research literature. In relation to the extent of these problems, data will be reported from the first multi-centre, longitudinal study investigating the incidence and type of sexual problems reported by people with TBI. Information on sexual functioning (using the Derogatis Interview for Sexual Functioning) and overall sexual satisfaction was collected at 6 months and 12 months after TBI from a prospective sample recruited from 6 TBI Model Systems centers. Data will be reported separately for males and females.
The existence of sexual problems post TBI necessitates a response from rehabilitation services. However a recent systematic review into the literature on sexuality after TBI found only a handful of empirical studies to inform clinical intervention. Drawing upon published and unpublished data, approaches and challenges in the provision of sex education and the treatment of disorders of sexual function will be outlined. Enhancing the capacity of rehabilitation staff to address the sexual health concerns of their clients is key to developing service delivery in this domain. The evidence for the efficacy of staff training will be delineated. Finally, a research agenda will be proposed that identifies priorities in further investigating the prevalence, causes and treatment of sexual health problems after TBI.