Sexual health and positive subjective well-being in partnered older men and women

David Lee, Bram Vanhoutte, James Nazroo, Neil Pendleton

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Objectives. We examine the associations between different patterns of sexual behavior and function, and three indicators of subjective well-being (SWB) covering eudemonic, evaluative and affective well-being in a representative sample of partnered older people. Method. Using data from a sexual relationships and activities questionnaire (SRA-Q) in wave 6 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, latent class analysis (LCA) identified groups characterized by distinctive patterns of sexual behavior and function and then examined their link to SWB. Eudemonic SWB was measured using a revised 15-item version of the CASP-19, evaluative SWB using the Satisfaction With Life Scale, and affective SWB using the 8-item version of the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale. Results. Sexual behavior and function was best described by six classes among men and five classes among women. These ranged from high sexual desire, frequent partnered sexual activities and few sexual problems (class 1), to low sexual desire, infrequent/no sexual activity and problems with sexual function (class 5[women]/6[men]). Men and women who reported either infrequent/no sexual activity, or were sexually active but reported sexual problems, generally had lower SWB than those individuals identified in class 1. Poorer SWB in men was more strongly associated with sexual function difficulties, whilst in women desire and frequency of partnered activities appeared more important in relation to SWB. Discussion. Within the context of a partnered relationship continuing sexual desire, activity and functioning are associated with higher SWB, with distinctive patterns for women and men.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)698-710
JournalJournals of Gerontology. Series B: Psychological Sciences & Social Sciences
Issue number4
Early online date18 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Sexual activity
  • Well-being
  • Aging
  • Later life
  • ELSA


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