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11.10.2019 | Original Investigation | Ausgabe 2/2020 Open Access

European Journal of Ageing 2/2020

Seeking help for sexual difficulties: findings from a study with older adults in four European countries

European Journal of Ageing > Ausgabe 2/2020
Sharron Hinchliff, Ana Alexandra Carvalheira, Aleksandar Štulhofer, Erick Janssen, Gert Martin Hald, Bente Træen
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10433-019-00536-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Responsible editor: Marja J. Aartsen.
Guest editors: Bente Træen and Feliciano Villar.

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Sexual well-being is an important part of life for many people aged 60 and older. However, older adults often face barriers to seeking and receiving help for sexual difficulties. This study used data from a probability survey (n = 3820) on sexuality and ageing to examine help-seeking in 60–75-year-olds in Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and Portugal. More men (12.2%) than women (6.8%) had sought professional help for a sexual difficulty in the past 5 years. The main reason for help-seeking was that sex was important to the participant and/or their relationship. The main source of professional help was the primary care physician. Of those who had sought professional help, 48% were satisfied or very satisfied with the help received, 31.6% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and 20.4% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied. Others had sought help from informal sources, particularly partners, friends, or websites. The main reasons for not seeking professional help included not being distressed by the symptoms, and thinking that the difficulty would clear up on its own. Multivariable regression analysis revealed that significant correlates of seeking professional help for women and men were level of distress about the sexual difficulty. With regard to women, those who were married, and/or from Portugal were more likely to have sought help. And regarding men, those who attended religious services were more likely to have sought professional help. These results have important implications for healthcare and can be used to inform the development and delivery of services for older adults who experience sexual difficulties.

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