The prospective associations between depression and sexual satisfaction among female medical students

Tal Peleg-Sagy, Golan Shahar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The direction of the relationships between depression and sexual dissatisfaction is unclear. Possibly, these relationships are influenced by different elements/components of depression represented by different measures (i.e., Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale [CES-D], which highlights mood, vs. Beck Depression Inventory version II [BDI-II], which focuses on cognition and physical symptoms). High-achieving women-such as female medical students, interns, and residents-might be particularly prone to both depression and sexual dissatisfaction. Aim: The aim of this study is to examine the direction of the longitudinal associations between depressive symptoms and sexual dissatisfaction in high-achieving, romantically involved female Israeli medical students and interns/residents using both CES-D and BDI-II. Methods: One hundred ninety-four female medical students from the first, fourth, and seventh (internship) years from all medical schools in Israel who were currently involved in romantic relationships were assessed twice over a 1-year interval using both CES-D and BDI-II. Cross-lagged structural equation modeling analyses were employed. Main Outcome Measures: Depressive symptoms were measured by the CES-D and the BDI-II. Sexual satisfaction was assessed by the "partner-satisfaction" factor of the Pinney Sexual Satisfaction Inventory. Results: Elevated levels of CES-D-measured depression were found (26% at T1 and 13% at T2 above the stricter cutoff point). The direction of the longitudinal association between depressive symptoms and sexual dissatisfaction changed according to the depression measure used: baseline CES-D-measured depression predicted an increase in sexual dissatisfaction over time (β=0.148, P=0.016). Baseline sexual satisfaction predicted an increase in BDI-II-measured depression (β=0.136, P=0.045). Conclusion: High-achieving, "fully-functioning" female medical students suffer from elevated levels of CES-D-measured depressed mood. Depressed mood might lead to sexual dissatisfaction, which in turn is likely to bring about "clinical," BDI-II-measured depression. We recommend a routine assessment of depressed mood and sexual dissatisfaction in this population, as well as increased access to tailored intervention for both clinical challenges.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1737-1743
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • BDI-II
  • CES-D
  • Depression
  • Female Sexual Satisfaction
  • Medical Students

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Urology


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