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2017 Grants - Strutt
SASEI [sas-ee]: Sexuality and Neurodegenerative Conditions
Adriana Strutt, Ph.D.
Baylor College of Medicine
2017 Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant to Promote Diversity (AARG-D)
Can a new tool called SASEI help identify and measure changes in sexual behavior in people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias?
Due to progressive changes in the brain, some individuals with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases can experience behaviors that are impulsive and out of character for that individual. One of these behaviors is an increase in impulsive sexual behavior (“hypersexuality”) that can be physically and emotionally distressing for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, research in this area can be challenging and very little is known about this important topic.
Adriana Strutt, Ph.D., has developed a tool called the Strutt Adult Sexual Expression Inventory (SASEI) to measure changes in sexual behavior in men and women with Alzheimer’s disease. The tool consists of a 44-item questionnaire that is filled out separately and in private by the individual with Alzheimer’s disease and their family caregiver. For their current study, Dr. Strutt will enroll study participants from the Baylor College of Medicine Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Clinic. They will recruit 300 people with cognitive decline (about 80% are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s) and 300 older individuals with normal cognitive function. They will use the SASEI tool to measure changes in sexual behavior and determine how this relates to changes in several brain functions including memory, attention, reasoning skills, language and mood. The researchers will also determine if there are significant differences in the SASEI scores reported by individuals with the disease versus their care partners.
These studies will be the first to systematically measure changes in sexual behavior in a large number of people with Alzheimer’ disease. Broad use of the SASEI tool in clinical settings could provide healthcare professionals a way to reliably identify and measure changes in sexual behavior related to cognitive decline. The real world value of the SASEI tool is that it allows people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families to communicate about an important but sensitive topic that is difficult to discuss. Ultimately, this information could help guide treatment plans to address these symptoms and improve the quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers.
Made possible through generous funding from the Gelfand Family Foundation