Date of Award:

8-2019

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Michael P. Twohig

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Rebecca K. Blais

Third Advisor:

Michael E. Levin

Abstract

Service members and veterans of the current era, Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) are at a high risk for a variety of psychological disorders and physical health impairments. Common disorders among male service members and veterans include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use, and hypersexuality. Each of these disorders affect all aspects of an individual’s life and can deteriorate important interpersonal relationships or impair functioning in a variety of contexts. All these variables can affect sexual health and functioning in these service members. Sexual functioning is an important aspect of overall well-being, relationship satisfaction, and marriage satisfaction. Conversely, sexual dysfunction can create interpersonal distress in important relationships and decrease overall well-being. One of the most common forms of sexual dysfunction in males is erectile dysfunction, and rates of sexual dysfunction are higher among male service members. These rates increase for combat veterans with a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis compared to those who do not have the same diagnosis. To date sexual dysfunction has been associated with PTSD, substance use, and hypersexuality. The current study examines how each of these disorders together are associated with erectile dysfunction in a sample of OEF/OIF/OND service members and veterans (N = 213). Exploratory analysis breaks down PTS symptoms into seven separate symptom clusters in an effort to determine what types of symptoms are most strongly associated with erectile dysfunction. The study recruited a sample of service members and veterans via Facebook and asked them to complete a survey battery that covered sexual health and assessed for PTSD, substance use, and hypersexuality. PTS symptoms were significantly associated with erectile dysfunction, in particular anhedonia and dysphoric arousal symptoms accounted for the most variance in this sample. Further research with clinical samples may strengthen these results or indicate additional symptom clusters that should be targeted in treatment and screening.

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