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Psychotropic induced sexual dysfunction for people with a dual diagnosis

Ian Hamilton (Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK)
Rose Pringle (Health Sciences, University of York, York, UK)
Stephen Hemingway (Senior Lecturer in Mental Health, Health Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK)

Advances in Dual Diagnosis

ISSN: 1757-0972

Article publication date: 16 November 2015




The purpose of this paper is: first, to consider the reported problems in sexual function caused by psychotropic medication. Second, the complex undertaking of completing an assessment of sexual functioning. Third, the role of the pharmaceutical industry is explored. Finally, implications for future research and practice are suggested.


As a commentary this paper draws on the available literature to synthesise what is already known about the relationship between psychoactive substances and sexual functioning.


The limited literature and lack of research attention given to psychotropic induced sexual dysfunction limits our collective understanding of how many people are affected and in what way.

Research limitations/implications

A greater focus on psychotropic induced sexual dysfunction is needed for people with a dual diagnosis. There has been an over reliance on single case studies and self-reporting. Large scale epidemiological investigation would help understand the extent and nature of the problem more fully. The demographic shift particularly in relation to an ageing population should be considered as psychotropic substances effect individuals in different ways as they grow older.

Practical implications

There is scope for workers to engage more fully in a conversation with clients about their experience of using psychotropic substances and how this has impacted their sexual functioning. The literature suggests that clients want to talk about this issue but staff are unwilling or unable to discuss the topic.


To the authors’ knowledge this is the first paper that draws on the available literature to explore the known and likely implications of psychotropic induced sexual dysfunction for this client group.



Hamilton, I., Pringle, R. and Hemingway, S. (2015), "Psychotropic induced sexual dysfunction for people with a dual diagnosis", Advances in Dual Diagnosis, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 167-178.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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