The Development and validation of a brief quality of sexual experience (QSE) scale: Results from a nationally representative sample of men and women in the United States

Stephanie A. Sanders, Debby Herbenick, Michael Reece, Vanessa Schick, Margo Mullinax, Brian Dodge, J. Dennis Fortenberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations


Introduction: Much scientific research focuses on assessing and understanding individuals' perceptions of sexual pleasure, enjoyment and satisfaction. Many existing measures of pleasure and satisfaction provide valuable information but are limited in their ability to assess event-level quality. Aims: To develop a scale for measuring the event-level quality of a sexual experience that could be used regardless of the age, gender, sexual orientation, and relationship status of the individual and across sexual activity types. Methods: Interviews about the measurement of sexual quality and pleasure were conducted with 15 experts in the field of sexual health and informed the development of an event-level scale to measure the quality of sexual experiences. Scale items were administered to a cross-sectional nationally representative probability survey of Americans ages 18 to 60. Main Outcome Measures: Socio-demographic items; Quality of Sexual Experience (QSE) scale items; event-level items related to overall sexual quality ("Quality item"), comparison to other sexual events ("Comparison item"), and orgasm ("Orgasm item"). Results: QSE scores were significantly correlated with responses to the Quality Item (r=0.901, P<0.001 for both women and men). Better experiences were associated with significantly higher QSE scores than were worse experiences; significant linear relationships were found for both women (GLMF[4,1461]=129.46, P<0.001) and men (GLMF[4,864]=71.84, P<0.001). QSE scores were significantly related to responses on the Orgasm Item for women [F[3,1430]=246.53, P<0.001] and men [F[3,858]=117.24, P<0.001]. Conclusions: The QSE scale is a valid and reliable event-level measure of the quality of a sexual experience in both women and men with outstanding psychometric properties. Clinical and research implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2409-2417
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Sexual Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013



  • Quality of Sexual Experience
  • Sexual Function
  • Sexual Pleasure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Reproductive Medicine

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