Candidate and career goals: My overall career goal is to become an independent physician-scientist conducting interdisciplinary, patient-centered clinical research to improve sexual function in aging women. This K23 Career Development Award will provide me with the additional experience and skills to reach this goal. I have a long-standing passion for women's health and interdisciplinary investigation, and additional training in behavioral clinical trials, the psychological and physiologic aspects of female sexual function, and advanced research methods in geriatric women's health will ensure my successful transition to independence. Training will include didactic coursework, national workshops, society meetings, one-on-one mentored tutorials, and participation in seminars. My interdisciplinary mentoring team includes Dr. Thurston (primary mentor, women's health and aging), Dr. Resnick (geriatric women's health, behavioral trials), Dr. Borrero (qualitative research, career mentorship), and Dr. Brotto (mindfulness, sexual function). In addition, I will be supported by the University of Pittsburgh, a major academic medical center with a long history of high quality research. Currently ranked 5th in the nation in NIH funding, the University comprises a wealth of research and training resources to enable me to meet my goals. Research plan: Almost half of U.S. women experience sexual problems, which have significant negative impacts on physical and mental health. Low sexual desire is the most common sexual problem, particularly among women 50 and older, but there are few treatment options available. Treatments that can address both physical and psychological aspects of sexual dysfunction may be more effective than medications. Mindfulness is a practice that emphasizes in-the-moment focus and non-judgmental bodily awareness. A group-based behavioral intervention rooted in mindfulness has shown early promise in small trials, but only among younger women. The overall objective of this study is to adapt and pilot test a mindfulness intervention in women 50 and older with low sexual desire. In phase one, data from qualitative research among older women will be used by the primary investigator and a stakeholder advisory to adapt an existing mindfulness intervention. In phase 2, fifty women will be randomized to the adapted intervention or an educational control group on general health and aging. Feasibility and acceptability of the intervention, as well as changes sexual desire, function, and satisfaction, will be assessed. Findings from this study will be used to design a larger efficacy trial to test the adapted intervention. The proposed award is consistent with the mission of the NIA to support research using ?integrative approaches to the study of social, psychological, and physiological influences on health and well- being over the life course.? Developing effective treatments for women's sexual problems will not only improve women's sex lives. It will address a significant public health need by allowing adults to maintain high quality of life and essential social relationships with aging.
Almost half of U.S. women experience sexual problems at some point in their lives, and these problems can have significant negative impacts on a woman's physical and mental health; low sexual desire is the most common sexual problem among older (age 50+) women, but unfortunately there are few treatment options available. The overall objective of this program of research is to adapt a group-based intervention rooted in mindfulness meditation for older women with low sexual desire and test its feasibility and acceptability in a pilot randomized clinical trial. Developing effective treatments for women's sexual problems will not only improve women's sex lives; it will allow them to maintain high quality of life and essential social relationships as they age.
|Thomas, Holly N; Neal-Perry, Genevieve S; Hess, Rachel (2018) Female Sexual Function at Midlife and Beyond. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am 45:709-722|