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The impact of study design on prevalence estimates of female sexual dysfunction

Hayes, R. D., Dennerstein, L., Bennett, C. M. and Fairley, C. K. 2007, The impact of study design on prevalence estimates of female sexual dysfunction, in WAS 2007 : Proceedings of the 2007 World Association of Sexology Conference, WAS, [Sydney, N.S.W.].

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Title The impact of study design on prevalence estimates of female sexual dysfunction
Author(s) Hayes, R. D.
Dennerstein, L.
Bennett, C. M.ORCID iD for Bennett, C. M.
Fairley, C. K.
Conference name World Association of Sexology. Conference(2007 : Sydney, New South Wales)
Conference location Sydney, New South Wales
Conference dates April 2007
Title of proceedings WAS 2007 : Proceedings of the 2007 World Association of Sexology Conference
Editor(s) [Unknown]
Publication date 2007
Conference series World Association of Sexology Conference
Publisher WAS
Place of publication [Sydney, N.S.W.]
Summary Introduction, objectives Despite increasing research, the true prevalence of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) remains a contentious issue. Previous research suggests that aspects of study design affect the reported prevalence of FSD. We compare commonly used instruments for assessing FSD. Methods A random sample of 240 Australian women aged 20-70 participated in this population based, cross-sectional study. A questionnaire mailed to women across Australia included four instruments for assessing FSD. The Sexual Function Questionnaire combined with the Female Sexual Distress Scale (SFQ-FSDS) was employed as a standard, validated instrument. Alternative instruments were the SFQ alone and two modified versions of a set of questions originally developed by Laumann et al. Results When assessed by the SFQ-FSDS, prevalence estimates (and 95% confidence intervals) of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, Female Sexual Arousal Disorder (genital subtype), Female Orgasmic Disorder, and Dysparunia were 16%(11-20%), 8%(4-11%), 9%(6-13%), 2%(0.1-3%) respectively. The prevalence estimates of these same disorders obtained using alternative instruments were 32-55%, 17-35%, 17-33% and 3-25% respectively. The sensitivity of alternative instruments varied widely (0 to 1.0). Specificities ranged from 0.51 to 0.99. Positive predictive values ranged from 0 to 0.57. Negative predictive values were all above 0.90. Changing the time span for recalling sexual experiences in an instrument altered the prevalence estimates, sensitivity and specificity. 32% of women with low desire, 31% with low genital arousal, 36% with orgasm difficulty and 57% with sexual pain were sexually distressed. Conclusion Over a third of women who were classified as suffering FSD by alternative instruments did not have FSD when assessed by SFQ-FSDS. Alternative instruments produced substantially higher prevalence estimates of FSD and identified different groups of women. Consequently, the instruments researchers choose to assess FSD may affect both the prevalence estimates and risk factors they report.
Language eng
Field of Research 170110 Psychological Methodology, Design and Analysis
170105 Gender Psychology
Socio Economic Objective 970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
HERDC Research category E1.1 Full written paper - refereed
Copyright notice ©2007, World Association of Sexology
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