Research in the Media: Is All Publicity ‘Good’ Publicity?

Hayley Wright, Rebecca Jenks

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The research:
The relationship between cognition and sexual activity in healthy older adults is under-researched (Hartmans et al., 2013). Given the associations between physical activity and cognition (Elovainio et al., 2009), and sexual activity and quality of life (Levine et al., 2012), we explored whether sexual activity is associated with improved cognition in older adults.

Using newly available data from Wave 6 of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (n=6833), we found that those who reported engagement in sexual activity over the past 12 months had higher cognitive function scores (word recall and fluid intelligence), than those who reported no sexual activity.

The findings have promising implications for i) the promotion of sexual health checks in healthcare settings, and ii) for policy changes in the provision of referrals for couples therapy or sexual counselling. The research supports the view that maintaining a healthy sex life in older age could improve cognitive function and wellbeing.

The aftermath:
The study was published as an open-access short report in Age and Ageing on 30th January 2016, at 06:08. At 12:08 on the same day, I received my first email interview request from Reuters. This prompted an influx of requests for further information and interviews from news outlets, science journalists and academics - with variable results! I will share my experiences of the use (and misuse) of research by the media, the sensationalised headlines, and some words of wisdom I picked up along the way.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event45th Annual British Society of Gerontology Conference: Emerging Researchers in Ageing Pre-Conference Event - Stirling University, Stirling, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Jul 20168 Jul 2016 (Link to the conference site)


Conference45th Annual British Society of Gerontology Conference
Abbreviated titleBSG 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • cognition
  • sexuality
  • media


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