Original article| Volume 93, ISSUE 11, P1944-1949, November 2012

Predictors of Changes in Sentimental and Sexual Life After Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

Published:April 01, 2012DOI:


      Sale P, Mazzarella F, Pagliacci MC, Agosti M, Felzani G, Franceschini M. Predictors of changes in sentimental and sexual life after traumatic spinal cord injury.


      To investigate changes and identify predictors in interpersonal functioning and sexual life after traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI).


      Prospective, multicenter, follow-up observational study.


      Subjects at home, interviewed by phone during a 6-month period, 3.8 mean years after discharge from 24 centers participating in a previous epidemiologic prospective survey.


      Subjects (N=403) with traumatic SCI.


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      Dependent variables: satisfaction with sentimental life and satisfaction with sexual life compared with before the injury. Independent variables: demographic (age, sex, marital status, vocational status), SCI related (severity, level, bowel/bladder continence), car-driving ability, perceived quality of life (QoL), and impact of sentimental life, social integration, and vocational status on QoL.


      Satisfaction with sentimental life was reportedly increased or the same as before SCI in 69% of the sample, but satisfaction with sexual life in only 31%. Lesser satisfaction with sexual life was reported by men than women (P=.002) and by married people than singles (P<.001). Significant predictors of sentimental life were perceived QoL and preserved driving ability (R2=.195). Bladder continence was positively associated with a better satisfaction with sexual life (R2=.368). Bowel continence did not remain a significant predictor of satisfaction with sexual life in multivariate analysis.


      The challenge of a comprehensive rehabilitation of SCI, addressing the recovery of well-being including a satisfying sentimental and sexual life, requires identifying new issues that should be considered in up-to-date rehabilitation programs. The results indicate associations between driving ability and a better satisfaction with sentimental life. Further investigations are needed to explore whether the relationship is causative.

      Key Words

      List of Abbreviations:

      ASIA (American Spinal Injury Association), F/U (follow-up), GISEM (Italian Group for the Epidemiological Study of Spinal Cord Injuries), QoL (quality of life), SCI (spinal cord injury)
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