Questionnaires and scales for the evaluation of the online sexual activities: A review of 20 years of research

Special issue: Internet and Sexuality

An increasing number of people use the Internet for Online Sexual Activities (OSA). This sexual revolution has resulted in both positive and negative aspects, enriching sexual functioning but also providing other risks for criminal, negative and harmful sexual conducts, or Online Sexual Problems (OSP). A deeper understanding of Internet sexuality is therefore important for practitioners who work in the psychological and sexological fields. Current studies on Internet sexuality span a broad spectrum with respect to data collection: interviews, questionnaires, observations, content analyses and Internet log file recordings have all been used. The aim of this paper is to offer the most complete overview of these instruments focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of different tools currently available to assess different dimensions of OSA, and to suggest a simple screener for OSP. A systematic search of published online sexual activities inventories was performed using PsychInfo and Pubmed (1993 to July 2013). Although many of them are adequate for their own purposes, our review revealed a lack of standardized, internationally (culturally) accepted tools that are epidemiologically validated in general populations and that can be used to investigate OSA and to assess OSP. The definitions of OSA and OSP continue to change and basic tools are essential to have a broader idea of the phenomenon and of the challenges and possibilities emerging from the double link between the Internet and sexuality. More accurate instruments are also necessary to help advanced clinical diagnosis and treatment for OSP.

self-report questionnaires; scales; online sexual activities (OSA); online sexual problems (OSP); internet sexuality
Author biographies

Stefano Eleuteri

Author photo Stefano Eleuteri, Psychologist, Sexual Counsellor, works in the educational guidance and tutoring service at Faculty of Medicine & Psychology of Sapienza University of Rome. He is the President of the “Educere” Association, based in Orvieto, and the Vice-Chair of the WAS Youth Initiative Committee.

Francesca Tripodi

Author photo Francesca Tripodi, Psychotherapist, Sexologist, and Supervisor at the Institute of Clinical Sexology of Rome. Member of the Educational Committee of the European Society of Sexual Medicine. Co-director of the ESSM School of Sexual Medicine.

Irene Petruccelli

Author photo Irene Petruccelli, PhD, Psychologist, Psychotherapist; Assistant professor of Social Psychology, Faculty of Human and Social Sciences, "Kore" University of Enna; Coordinator and Supervisor, Center of Forensic Psichology, Rome.

Roberta Rossi

Author photo Roberta Rossi, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Sexologist, coordinator and supervisor of the Institute of Clinical Sexology (ISC) of Rome, President of Italian Federation Scientific Sexology (FISS).

Chiara Simonelli

Author photo Chiara Simonelli, is an associate professor in clinical sexology at Sapienza University in Rome, Italy. She is a regular lecturer in the psychology and psychopathology of sexual behaviour and also teaches the degree course in psychology. She is the President of EFS (European Federation of Sexology) and author of a variety of scientific publications and theoretical or experimental papers and books.

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