Although sexual anxiety (SA) is associated with significant sexual and relationship difficulties, to date, we lack brief scales to adequately assess SA. The aim of the present study was to develop a brief and reliable French version of the Sexual Anxiety Scale (SAS) that can be used to screen the manifestations of SA and their severity. A community sample (n = 576) was recruited to investigate the reliability and validity of the brief form of the scale (SAS-BF). Confirmatory factor analysis was performed on the original three-factor model (SAS) and on the new, four-factor SAS-BF. Its convergent validity was tested with theoretically relevant correlates (e.g., anxiety, sexual satisfaction). The SAS-BF yielded strong psychometric properties in terms of factor structure and reliability, and was reasonably correlated with associated variables. SAS-BF can be considered a valid short scale to assess SA in studies where a brief form of the questionnaire is desirable or during clinical screening with patients experiencing variable levels of SA.
KEYWORDS: Brief questionnaire, erotophobia, factor analysis, sexual anxiety, validation
Difficulties with sexual functioning represent a common experience in adulthood (Graham et al., 2020; Lewis et al., 2010) and have been associated with lower sexual and relationship satisfaction, self-esteem, and quality of life (Flynn et al., 2016; Nappi et al., 2016). Sexual anxiety is defined as the tendency to experience worrisome thoughts, discomfort, fear, or avoidance when exposed to sexual contexts or cues (Fisher et al, 1988; Snell et al, 1993). In the current article, sexual anxiety (SA) is employed as an umbrella term for related conditions: sexual aversion (Crenshaw, 1985), sexual phobia (Kaplan, 1987), and erotophobia (Fisher et al., 1988).
Prevalence data suggest that SA is far from uncommon, even though epidemiological data are lacking. In a large internet survey (n = 4,147) about sexual health among a representative sample of adults (19-69 years of age) in the Netherlands, 30% of respondents had experienced SA at some point in their lives and about 4% met diagnostic criteria for Sexual Aversion Disorder (a recurrent and acute form of anxiety toward sexuality; Bakker 8c Vanwezenbeek, 2006). A more recent population-based study (n = 8,000), which focused on a representative sample of the Dutch population (aged 15-71 years), suggested that women are twice as likely to experience persistent SA (4.5%) when compared to men (2.4%; Kedde, 2012). Regarding sexual functioning, SA is associated with experiencing more sexual dysfunctions (e.g., difficulties related to sexual desire or pain during sexual intercourse; Brassard et al., 2015; Nelson & Purdon, 2011), increased sexual distress (Dang et al., 2018), and lower sexual satisfaction (Bigras et al., 2017; Fallis et al., 2011). SA is also related to poorer body image (Carter et al., 2020; La Rocque & Cioe, 2011) and lower sexual self-esteem (Brassard et al., 2015; Snell et al., 1993). Higher levels of SA are negatively correlated with risky sexual behaviours (Lafortune et al, 2020; Lewis et al., 2006) and sexual compulsivity (Efrati & Mikulincer, 2018). Moreover, the signs and symptoms of each individual with SA...