Supporting sexual adjustment from the perspective of men living with spinal cord injury


Study design

Descriptive phenomenological approach.


This study explored the lived experience of sexuality for men after spinal cord injury (SCI) and described the current state of tools and resources available to assist with sexual adjustment from the perspective of men living with SCI.


Men living in the community in Ontario, Canada.


Six men (age 24–49 years) with complete or incomplete SCI (C4-T12; <1–29 years post injury) participated in one individual, in-depth, standardized, open-ended interview (68–101 min). Analysis was conducted using Giorgi’s method, and involved within case analysis followed by cross-case analysis.


All participants reported that resources available to support sexual adjustment after SCI were inadequate, and the majority of men felt their healthcare providers lacked knowledge regarding, and comfort discussing sexuality after SCI. Men reported sexuality was not a priority of the rehabilitation centers and felt that healthcare providers did not understand the importance of addressing sexuality. Existing resources were described as too clinical and not necessarily relevant given changes in sensation and mobility post injury. Participants provided recommendations for the effective delivery of relevant sexual education information.


To improve quality of life for men after SCI, suitable resources must be available to support sexual rehabilitation post injury. Future research should focus on developing strategies to facilitate discussions about sexuality between individuals with SCI and healthcare providers, and on developing resources that are effective and relevant for these men.

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Data availability

The datasets generated and analyzed during the current study are not publicly available due to the possibility of identifying information occurring in the in-depth qualitative data, but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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We thank Merna Seliman who assisted with data analysis.

Author information




JDK was responsible for developing the protocol, collecting and analyzing data, interpreting results and writing the report. JDK has had full access to the data in the study and has final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication. CMKL contributed to development of the protocol, interpretation of results and provided feedback on the report. DSD contributed to protocol development and provided feedback on the report. HT contributed to protocol development and provided feedback on the report. WHG was responsible for development of the protocol, interpretation of results and provided.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jacqueline D. Kathnelson.

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This file has been reviewed and received ethics clearance from the York University Research Ethics Board (file number 2019–004) and the Brock University Research Ethics Board (file number 18–235). We certify that all applicable institutional and governmental regulations concerning the ethical use of human volunteers were followed during the course of this research.

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Kathnelson, J.D., Kurtz Landy, C.M., Ditor, D.S. et al. Supporting sexual adjustment from the perspective of men living with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord (2020).

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