Sexuality Following Trauma Injury: A Literature Review
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Restoration of the quality of life (QoL) of trauma injury survivors is the aim of trauma rehabilitation. It is generally acknowledged that sexuality is an important component of QoL; however, rehabilitation services frequently fall short of including sexuality as a matter of routine. The literature was reviewed to examine the experiences of trauma survivors from three groups: spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and burns. The focus was on the impact of trauma on the QoL to identify future research directions and to advocate for the inclusion of sexuality as an integral part of rehabilitation. Databases searched were Proquest, Ovid, Cinahl, Medline, PsycInfo and Cochrane Central Register of controlled trials. A total of 36 eligible studies were included: SCI (n = 25), TBI (n = 6), burns (n = 5). Four themes were identified across the three trauma groups that were labeled as physiological impact of trauma on sexuality, cognitive-genital dissociation (CGD), sexual disenfranchisement (SD), and sexual rediscovery (SR). Trauma injury has a significant impact on sexuality, which is not routinely addressed within rehabilitation services. Further sexuality research is required among all trauma groups to improve rehabilitation services and in turn QoL outcomes for all trauma survivors.
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