Mental- and physical-health indicators and sexually explicit media use behavior by adults

J Sex Med. 2011 Mar;8(3):764-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.02030.x. Epub 2010 Oct 4.


Introduction: Converging evidence from culturally diverse contexts indicates that sexually explicit media use behavior (SEMB; i.e., pornography consumption) is associated with risky sexual health perceptions and behaviors, many that involve high risks of HIV/STD transmission.

Aim: Essentially unexplored, and the focus here, are potential relationships between SEMB and nonsexual mental- and physical-health indicators.

Main outcome measure: Variability in six continuously measured health indicators (depressive symptoms, mental- and physical-health diminished days, health status, quality of life, and body mass index) was examined across two levels (users, nonusers) of SEMB.

Methods: A sample of 559 Seattle-Tacoma Internet-using adults was surveyed in 2006. Multivariate general linear models parameterized in a SEMB by respondent gender (2 × 2) factorial design were computed incorporating adjustments for several demographics.

Results: SEMB was reported by 36.7% (n = 205) of the sample. Most SEMB users (78%) were men. After adjusting for demographics, SEMB users, compared to nonusers, reported greater depressive symptoms, poorer quality of life, more mental- and physical-health diminished days, and lower health status.

Conclusions: The findings show that mental- and physical-health indicators vary significantly across SEMB, suggesting the value of incorporating these factors in future research and programmatic endeavors. In particular, the findings suggest that evidence-based sexual health promotion strategies simultaneously addressing individuals' SEMB and their mental health needs might be a useful approach to improve mental health and address preventable sexual health outcomes associated with SEMB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Data Collection
  • Depression / psychology
  • Erotica / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Washington
  • Young Adult