Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Michele Burnette

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Spates

Third Advisor

Dr. Galen Alessi

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Lisa Baker


The purpose of this research was to assess the effects of an intervention designed to reduce patient and partner anxiety regarding the resumption of sexual activities following myocardial infarction (MI). A multiple baseline across subjects design was employed.

Participants completed self-report measures o f sexual functioning, knowledge of psychological and physical sequelae to MI, depression and anxiety on a weekly basis for at least 3 weeks (to a maximum of 12 weeks) prior to participating in treadmill testing, and attending the information/counseling session. Couples also completed these assessments for a 4-week period following the intervention.

Six heterosexual couples in which one partner had suffered an acute MI between 1 and 10 months prior to this study participated. These couples had been married an average of 27.86 years. Participants ranged in age from 52 to 71 years.

A repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted on each couple's Sexual Interaction Inventory (SB; LoPiccolo & Steger, 1974) Total Disagreement scores, and on each participant's SB Pleasure Mean scores. The effects for time were not significant. Thus, the hypothesis that sexual functioning would improve following this intervention was not supported.

In general, the prediction that participants would report increased comfort with sexual activity and that accuracy of responding to questions regarding sequelae to MI would improve following the intervention also were not supported. The data suggest that frequency of sexual activity for the sample as a whole did increase in the posttreatment phase.

The results are discussed in terms of the relatively good levels of sexual and emotional functioning at the outset of the study, and the possibility that the sexual difficulties which were present were not Ml-related. Concerns regarding measurement of anxiety specific to sexual activities and measurement of sexual activities in older couples are also presented.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access