Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sexual Wellbeing and Gynecologic Health of Older Women in Retirement Settings
by Thomason, Ayasha P., Ph.D., University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 2018, 252; 10749619
Abstract (Summary)

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore sexuality and associated health factors in women residing in retirement settings. Specifically, we aimed to: 1) describe health factors associated with sexual wellbeing, and 2) describe gynecologic health screening frequency.

Background: Sexual wellbeing is a key measure of successful aging and is affected by complex integration of biopsychosocial health factors. Older women moving to senior retirement communities maintain desire and physical capacity for sexual activity. Although these settings provide socialization and close proximity of neighbors, potentiating possible sexual encounters, many women in these settings suffer from genitourinary issues that may decrease quality of life and add to health care burden and cost. However, addressing these issues can be complicated because gynecologic screening guidelines have changed in women over the age of 65.

Methodology: A descriptive correlational survey design was used to describe sexual wellbeing and health factors associated. We adapted the National Social Life Health and Aging Project (NSHAP) questionnaire, to include the following factors: attitudes and life experiences, social networks, neighborhood context, religiosity, physical and mental health, and alcohol and tobacco use. The survey also included the gynecologic health screening questions about mammograms, Pap smear, and pelvic exams.

Results: Ninety eight women were recruited from nine retirement settings (mean age: 84 years). Compared to community dwelling women, our sample of older women reported few sexual activities (5% engaged in intercourse and 20% engaged in other types of sexual activities), yet moderate amounts of desire were present; 31% believed that sex was an important part of life. Most participants reported not having a partner as a limiting reason. Despite high comorbidities, there were higher perceived self-reported physical and functional health scores than community settings. We found that many older women continued receiving gynecologic health screenings despite guideline changes for discontinuation.

Discussion/Conclusion: Women in retirement settings are mostly un-partnered, but many still have moderate sexual desire scores, and view sex as important, indicating need for continued assessment regarding sexual wellbeing. As indicated by the frequency of gynecologic health screenings, there appears to be misunderstanding regarding the current guidelines.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lefler, Leanne L.
Commitee: Beverly, Claudia, Jones, Sara, Richard-Davis, Gloria, Wei, Feifei
School: University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Department: Nursing Science
School Location: United States -- Arkansas
Source: DAI-A 79/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Sexuality, Womens studies, Aging
Keywords: Gynecologic health, Older women, Retirement setting, Sexual wellbeing
Publication Number: 10749619
ISBN: 9780438036079
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