Sexual self-esteem and sexual needs of young adults with cerebral palsy
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Submission date: 2014-08-01
Final revision date: 2014-10-24
Acceptance date: 2014-10-24
Online publication date: 2014-10-28
Publication date: 2014-10-28
Health Psychology Report 2014;2(4):247–255
Sexuality is an important part of human existence, irrespective of race, religion or level of physical fitness. It can, however, be treated and exhibited by individuals in very different ways. The place of sexuality in a person’s life, and in the way it is materialised, is determined by a number of biopsychosocial factors. For some, the presence of these factors and their influence is not a matter of choice. They may arise as a consequence of the psychophysical condition of their organism. People with motor disabilities undoubtedly belong to this group.

Participants and procedure
The study was carried out in Poland on a group of 61 people with roughly equal proportions of men and women. Subject selection was non-random; every subject was diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) and was aged between
15 and 25. All of the subjects had normal levels of intelligence. Two methods were used in the study: Sexual Self-esteem Scale and Sexual Needs Scale.

The results in terms of sexual self-esteem and sexual needs allowed two different subgroups of subjects to be distinguished (H – with high scores; L – with low scores). The analysis of significance levels of the differences in terms of sexual self-esteem and sexual needs between subgroups H and L confirmed the clear distinction between each of the subgroups’ clinical pictures (p < .001) in 20 out of 21 of the analysed aspects. Falling in love was the only matter that did not differentiate the subgroups.

There is a clear polarization of the results. Only 1/3 of the respondents had high sexual self-esteem and sexual needs. The remaining 2/3 reported having a rather low sexual self-esteem and low levels of needs with regards to their own sexuality. It needs to be stressed that CP-affected youth, similarly to their peers, may need support in discovering their sexuality and satisfying their sexual needs (2/3 of the respondents). The specifics of the range of support should take into account the aspects highlighted by the literature as associated with the causes of disability and contexts of psychosocial functioning of individuals with CP.
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