The Female Sexual Functioning Index (FSFI): evaluation of acceptability, reliability, and validity in women with breast cancer

Iris Bartula, Kerry A. Sherman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Sexual dysfunction commonly arises for women following diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. The aim of this study was to systematically evaluate the acceptability, reliability, and validity of the Female Sexual Functioning Index (FSFI) when used with these women. Methods: Sexually active women previously diagnosed with breast cancer (N = 399) completed an online questionnaire including the FSFI and measures of acceptability (ease of use, relevance), sexual functioning, body image, fatigue, impact of cancer, physical and mental health, and relationship adjustment. Reliability and validity were evaluated using standard scale validation techniques. Results: Participants indicated a high degree of acceptability. Excellent internal consistency (α = 0.83–0.96) and test–retest reliability (r = 0.74–0.86) of the FSFI were evident. According to the confirmatory factor analysis, the best fit was achieved with removal of item 14 (regarding the extent of emotional closeness with the partner) and six subscales (desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, pain), without a total score (TLI = 0.96, CFI = 0.97, RMSEA = 0.07). Correlations with measures of sexual functioning and related constructs provided evidence for convergent and divergent validities, respectively. All but one subscale (orgasm) discriminated between women who are, and are not, currently receiving treatment for breast cancer (discriminant validity). Conclusions: These findings indicate that not only is the FSFI psychometrically sound when used with women with breast cancer, but it is perceived as being easy to use and relevant. It is recommended that the FSFI subscale scores can be used in both clinical and research settings as a screening tool to identify women experiencing sexual dysfunction following breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2633-2641
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Sexual dysfunctions (psychological)
  • Sexual dysfunctions (physiological)
  • Psychosexual dysfunctions
  • Questionnaires
  • DSM-V


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