Views and Experiences of Sex, Sexuality and Relationships Following Spinal Cord Injury: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of the Qualitative Literature

Earle, Sarah; O'Dell, Lindsay; Davies, Alison and Rixon, Andrew (2020). Views and Experiences of Sex, Sexuality and Relationships Following Spinal Cord Injury: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of the Qualitative Literature. Sexuality and Disability (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11195-020-09653-0

Abstract

Research examining the effects of spinal cord injury on sexuality has largely focused on physiological functioning and quantification of dysfunction following injury. This paper reports a systematic review of qualitative research that focused on the views and experiences of people with spinal cord injury on sex and relationships. The review addressed the following research question: What are the views and experiences of people with spinal cord injury of sex, sexuality and relationships following injury? Five databases were relevant and employed in the review: CINAHL (1989-2016 only), PsychInfo, PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science, for research published between 1 January 1980 and 30 November 2019. After removing duplicates, 257 records remained and were screened using a two-stage approach to inclusion and quality appraisal. Following screening, 27 met the criteria for inclusion and are reported in the paper. The review includes studies from fifteen countries across five continents. Two main approaches to data analysis summary and thematic synthesis were undertaken to analyze the qualitative data reported in the papers. The analysis revealed four main themes: sexual identity; significant and generalized others, sexual embodiment; and; sexual rehabilitation and education.

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