Bibliotherapy for sexual dysfunctions: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J.J.D.M. van Lankveld, Fleur F.T. van de Wetering, Kevan Wylie, Rob J.P.M. Scholten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)


Aim: The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of bibliotherapy for sexual dysfunctions, when compared with no treatment and compared with other interventions. Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO were searched from 1970 to January 2020. Selection criteria were randomized controlled trials evaluating assisted or unassisted bibliotherapy for all types of sexual dysfunctions compared with no treatment (wait list or placebo) or with other psychological interventions. Bibliotherapy is defined as psychological treatment using printed instruction to be used by the individual or couple suffering from sexual dysfunction. Primary outcome measures were male and female sexual functioning level and continuation/remission of sexual dysfunction. Secondary outcomes were sexual satisfaction and dropout rate. Sexual functioning and sexual satisfaction were self-reported by participants using validated questionnaires. Results: Fifteen randomized controlled trials with a total of 1,113 participants (781 women; 332 men) met inclusion criteria. Compared with no treatment, unassisted bibliotherapy resulted in larger proportions of female participants reporting remission of sexual dysfunction, and sexual satisfaction was higher in treated participants, both female and male participants. Compared with no treatment, assisted bibliotherapy had significant positive effects on female sexual functioning; no effects on male sexual functioning were found. Results of unassisted and assisted bibliotherapy did not differ from those of other intervention types on any outcome. Throughout, no differences between study conditions were found regarding dropout rates. The certainty of the evidence for all outcomes was rated as very low. Conclusion: We found indications of positive effects of bibliotherapy for sexual dysfunctions. Across studies, more significant effects were found for women than for men. However, owing to limitations in the study designs and imprecision of the findings, we were unable to draw firm conclusions about the use of bibliotherapy for sexual dysfunction. More high quality and larger trials are needed. Relevant outcome measures for future studies should be defined as well as unified grading systems to measure these endpoints. In addition, future studies should report on treatment acceptability and adherence. van Lankveld JJDM, van de Wetering FT, Wylie, K et al. Bibliotherapy for Sexual Dysfunctions: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Sex Med 2021;18:582–614.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-614
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of sexual medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Bibliotherapy
  • Dropout
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Sexual Functioning
  • Sexual Satisfaction
  • Treatment Effect


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