Date of Award

2-11-2008

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Margaret Drickamer

Abstract

This study is intended to explore how physicians can best help their older patients attain a better quality of life through sexual healthcare by eliciting older patients perceptions and experiences regarding their sexual health needs and what role their physician should play in meeting those needs. Participants consisted of individuals and couples over the age of 65 recruited from a continuing care retirement community and from a VA Geriatric Clinic. Twenty in-depth, one-on-one interviews were conducted, and transcripts were analyzed using qualitative methodology. Analysis of transcripts revealed a broad range of findings including seniors perceptions of: the definitions of sexual activity and sexual health, their own sexual status, their own sexual health needs, the barriers to meeting their sexual health needs, and the ageist beliefs of others and themselves. This study exposed older patients self-perceived sexual health needs and the barriers to having those needs met; this knowledge should help physicians improve the quality of life for their senior patients through improved sexual health care.

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