Experiences of sexual health in persons with hip and knee osteoarthritis: a qualitative studyNilsing Strid, E., Ekelius-Hamping, M.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the world’s most common form of arthritis and a common cause of musculoskeletal pain and disability. Persons living with chronic diseases often have affected sexual health because of pain and limited function. Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease but there is scarce knowledge about how sexual health is experienced. The aim of this study was to explore the experience of sexual health in persons who have seen a physiotherapist for their hip and/or knee OA.
This study has a qualitative design. Participants were recruited from the Swedish Quality Register Better Management of Patients with Osteoarthritis (BOA). To reach a variety of experiences and strengthen credibility, a purposeful sampling strategy based on age, sex and hip and knee OA was used. Semi-structured telephone interviews were held with 20 persons with hip and/or knee OA. Data were analysed with qualitative content analysis and inductive category development was applied.
The analysis resulted in two main categories. The first category, Individual differences in how sexual health is affected by hip and knee OA, comprises of two sub categories: Pain limits sexual health; and Strategies for sexual health in the relationship. The second main category, Varying needs for communication about sexual health, is supported by the sub categories: Physiotherapists do not ask about sexual health; and Relevance of communicating about sexual health.
Painful hip and knee OA limit sexual health to varying degrees, and individuals make adjustments or develop strategies to maintain sexual life. Sexual health is not talked about during consultations with physiotherapists or other health care professionals, indicating that patients with OA may have unmet needs regarding their sexual health. Further research is needed on how to provide support and information about sexual health in OA.