Publication Date


Degree Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Sharon Wahl

Second Advisor

Peg Mayer


sexuality, aging, sexual dysfunction, treatment options


Background: As the population ages, many quality of life issues will generate discussion. One such issue is sexuality of the aging adult. While there is substantial documentation related to the physiology and desires of the aging adult, little is known about medical practitioners' beliefs and practices regarding sexuality. Method: A 14 question survey with a comment section was developed and mailed to 269 physicians and nurse practitioners in Santa Clara County, California. The responses were evaluated using descriptive statistics. The comments received were grouped related to intent or topic. Results: There was no discernible difference between the beliefs and practices of physicians and nurse practitioners. The responses to the questions that concerned beliefs were very homogenous indicating that practitioners believe sexuality is important across the life span and that the natural and physiological changes that occur do cause concern for aging patients. In addition, there was agreement related to treatment options for sexual dysfunction. While most indicated there are adequate treatment options for men, few felt there were for women. The number of practitioners that indicated they include questions related to sexuality as a part of the initial history and physical were substantially more than was described in the literature. Conclusions: This study confirms that practitioners regard sexuality as an important aspect of an aging adult's life. More research is needed about treatment options for women, as well as additional investigation regarding the number of practitioners who actually inquire about sexual concerns during the initial intake of the aged adult.