assessment, sexual function, sexual problems



  1. Jaarsma, Tiny PhD, RN
  2. Steinke, Elaine E. PhD, RN, FAAN
  3. Gianotten, Woet L. MD


It is increasingly realized that discussing sexuality is an important issue in the holistic care for cardiac patients. In this review article, the conditions of a good assessment of sexual problems are identified such as creating an appropriate environment, ensuring confidentiality, and using appropriate language. Second, we present different styles and approaches that can be used to start the assessment, differing between settings, persons, or disciplines. The PLISSIT (permission, limited information, specific suggestion, and intensive therapy) model can be helpful to initiate discussion about sexuality with the cardiac patient and his/her partner. This model is a stepwise approach using various levels of discussion or treatment. Open-ended question can facilitate discussion about sexual concerns, and validated questionnaires or diaries can be used to assess sexual problems. Patients with sexual concerns and problems should be counseled and/or treated appropriately, and adequate follow-up is needed. Additional training and research are needed to further improve the quality of sexual assessment and counseling in cardiac patients.