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Sexuality, Aging and Heart Disease: Translating from Population to Patient

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A Beeson Career Development Award is proposed by the University of Chicago to advance the candidate, Stacy Lindau, MD, to productive, independent investigatorship and leadership in clinically-relevant aging research. Her long-term career goal is to fundamentally alter the approach to and outlook for older adult sexuality by designing effective and disease-focused clinical interventions. An evidence base does not yet exist for disease-specific approaches to prevention and management of sexual problems among older adults with chronic illness, especially women. Dr. Lindau's work, to date, has been mainly in collaboration with social scientists using population-based survey research methods. This research establishes that many older adults are sexually active, sexual problems are highly prevalent and that physician communication with older adults about sexuality (particularly women) infrequently occurs. As a gynecologist researcher with clinical experience in treatment of female sexual problems, Dr. Lindau's immediate career goal is to move her gerosexuality research focus from population to patient. Specifically, she aims to identify how myocardial infarction in older women affects sexuality, who is most at risk, and what can be done to prevent and ameliorate negative sexual sequelae following an Ml. She will do this using population-based and clinical observational data, qualitative methods, and by carrying out a clinical trial feasibility study. Moving from population to patient requires substantial new, training, skills and research experience, including mentored training in clinical cardiology and geriatrics, clinical trials design and implementation, comorbidity and disease severity adjustment, risk stratification tool development, and analytic methods for assessing clinical outcomes and intervention effectiveness. With these new skills, Dr. Lindau is poised to become a uniquely cross-trained, translational researcher in aging whose work and leadership can advance both gerontology and geriatrics approaches to older adult sexuality. An ambitious four year plan is proposed, appropriate to Dr. Lindau's level of experience, in an excellent research environment. Mentorship will help ensure Dr. Lindau's success and will facilitate development of productive, lasting collaborations with geriatricians and other clinical specialists. The Beeson Award will link Dr. Lindau and her career to the premier network of clinical aging researchers and will position her to lead and inspire others in aging research. RELEVANCE: Sexual activity and function are strongly associated with overall health in later life, yet medical attention to sexual concerns of older adults is dismal. This research will provide an evidence base for design and evaluation of interventions to prevent, identify and intervene upon a highly prevalent, but largely ignored, spectrum of distressing problems experienced by older adults with common illnesses.
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