Sexuality among young Danes treated for mental health problems: Baseline findings in a nationwide cohort study

Mikkel Kjær Bahnsen*, Christian Graugaard, Kirsten Arntz Boisen, Josefine Bernhard Andresen, Mikael Andersson, Morten Frisch


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Mental health problems are common among adolescents and young adults (AYA), but although sexuality plays a central role in the transition from adolescence to adulthood, associations between such problems and sexuality have only been sparsely researched in AYA. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between mental health problems and various outcomes related to body and sexuality, romantic relationships, sexual functioning, and sexual risk behaviors among AYA. We used questionnaire data from 8696 Danish AYA aged 15-24 years who participated in the nationwide cohort study Project SEXUS at baseline in 2017-2018. Logistic regression analyses yielded demographically weighted, age-adjusted odds ratios for associations between mental health problems and sexual outcomes. Female AYA treated for mental health problems reported more active sex lives than other women. Treatment for mental health problems was associated with statistically significantly increased odds ratios for several sexual dysfunctions, and treated AYA significantly more often reported sexual debut before age 15 years, high sex partner numbers, sexual victimization, unsafe sex, sexually transmitted infections, induced abortions, discontentment with the appearance of body and genitalia, gender non-conformity, same-sex sexual experience, and non-heterosexual identity. Compared to healthy peers, AYA treated for mental health problems constitute a vulnerable group at increased risk of sexual adversities. Healthcare professionals should acknowledge these possible sexual challenges and offer relevant counselling to reduce the risk of adverse sexual outcomes in this group.

TidsskriftJournal of Psychiatric Research
Sider (fra-til)334-343
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2023

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Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


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