The current study investigated the association between relationship status and the psychological adjustment, sexual esteem and sexual behaviour of people with and without physical disability. A total of 1196 participants completed the study, 748 participants (367 men, 381 women) had a physical disability and 448 participants (171 men, 277 women) were able-bodied. The age range of participants was 18 to 69 years, with a mean age of 36.39 years (SD=10.41). The results demonstrated that physical disability and its severity were related to an increased likelihood of being single. Men with physical disabilities were more likely than women to be single. In terms of psychological adjustment, single people with physical disabilities were more depressed than those who had a partner they did not live with. However, they were not significantly disadvantaged in this area when compared to married people and those in de facto relationships. Relationship status was strongly related to sexual wellbeing in people with and without physical disability, with single people reporting lower levels of sexual satisfaction and sexual esteem as well as less frequent mutual sexual activity. However, married people with physical disabilities reported lower levels of sexual wellbeing than the people who had partners they did not live with. This suggests that among couples where a partner has a physical disability, marriage and live-in relationships may add burdens that do not exist in more casual relationships.
Field of Research
170106 Health, Clinical and Counselling Psychology