Examining associations between sexual behaviours and quality of life in older adults

Taylor-Jane Flynn, Alan J. Gow*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    68 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: while sexual behaviours are potentially important for quality of life in older adults, they are under-researched. The current study examined associations between frequency and importance of sexual behaviours and quality of life in older adults. Method: one hundred and thirty-three participants (mean 74 years, SD = 7.1) provided information about the frequency with which they participated in six sexual behaviours and the perceived importance of these: touching/holding hands, embracing/ hugging, kissing, mutual stroking, masturbating and intercourse. Participants also completed the WHO Quality of Life scale, providing an overall quality of life score, in addition to the domains of physical health, psychological health, social relationships and environment. Participants provided information on their marital status, living arrangements and self-reported health. Results: both the frequency and importance of sexual behaviours were moderately positively correlated with quality of life (r = 0.52 and 0.47, respectively, both P < 0.001). In separate regression analyses, the frequency of sexual behaviours was a significant predictor of quality of life in the social relationships domain (β = 0.225, P < 0.05), and the importance of sexual behaviours was associated with the psychological domain (β = 0.151, P < 0.05), independent of the presence of a spouse/partner and self-reported health. Conclusions: with ageing trends, a broader understanding of the factors that influence quality of life in older adults is increasingly important. The current findings suggest that aspects of sexual behaviour and quality of life were positively associated. Researchers are encouraged to consider aspects of sex and sexuality when exploring determinants of well-being in later life.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberafv083
    Pages (from-to)823-828
    Number of pages6
    JournalAge and Ageing
    Issue number5
    Early online date14 Jul 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015


    • Older adults
    • Older people
    • Quality of life
    • Sexual behaviour

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Ageing
    • Geriatrics and Gerontology


    Dive into the research topics of 'Examining associations between sexual behaviours and quality of life in older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this