Sexual health in cancer: the results of a survey exploring practices, attitudes, knowledge, communication, and professional interactions in oncology healthcare providers
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To assess, focusing on population of healthcare professionals providing oncosexology care to men with cancer, clinical practice, attitudes, knowledge, communication, and professional interaction.
We performed a descriptive cross-sectional study with an online self-administered e-questionnaire addressed to all medical, paramedical, or administrative professionals attending the 4th “Cancer, Sexuality and Fertility” Meeting in Toulouse, France. Their participation was voluntary and totally anonymous.
The 165 respondents comprised 44% of physicians, 47% of paramedics, and 9% of other health professionals in oncology, from all French regions. Paramedics were significantly younger than physicians (p = .006). One third of respondents were degreed in sexology, but 75.8% were in demand of oncosexology-specific trainings, particularly paramedics (p = .029). Regarding the oncosexology network, respondents declared being linked to organ specialists (56.8%), psychologists (49.5%), oncologists (47.4%), nurses (31.5%), radiation therapists (27.4%), and general practitioners (25.3%). Compared to paramedics, physicians were more likely to be engaged in oncosexology care (p = .039) and couple counseling (p = .005), but the proportions of counseled patients or couple were identical (p = .430 and p = .252, respectively). Overall, 90% of respondents reported discussing sexuality issues with patients. Regarding the time for discussion, physicians reported communicating more at cancer announcement (p = .004) or after treatments (p = .015), while more paramedics reported discussing at another time (p = .005). Regarding the place for discussion, paramedics more frequently reported talking about sexuality in the hospital room (p = .001) or during a specific consult (p = .007).
Results emphasize various levels for improving existing oncosexology care, such as developing oncosexology-specific educational and practical training programs, particularly for paramedics; consolidating information, counseling, and therapeutic education with formal procedures like implementing medical and paramedical “oncosexology moments,” or strengthening the community-hospital networks, from diagnosis to survivorship.
KeywordsHealthcare professionals Oncosexology Clinical practice Communication Attitudes Training
We gratefully acknowledge the 4th RCSF Organizing Committee for their valuable insights for implementing this study and particularly all the professionals who accepted to take part in the survey.
Compliance with ethical standards
The targeted population were all medical, paramedical, or administrative professionals, who have an activity in oncosexuality. Their participation was voluntary and totally anonymous. The link was available for 2 months, with another sending of emails during the second month, to optimize response rates.
Conflict of interest
The study was methodologically supported by the University Cancer Center of Toulouse (University Hospital of Rangueil), the Cancer Network of Midi-Pyrénées (ONCOMIP), the Association of Coordinators of the French Cancer Networks (ACORESCA), the joint group of the Federative Group of French Cancer Centers (UNICANCER), the French Association for Supportive Care (AFSOS), and the French Education and Research Group of Andrology, Urology, and Sexology (GEFRAUS).
This project was performed in the context of a PhD Fellowship granted by the French National League Against Cancer (PhD grant no. TDTJ12441—2013e2016). The authors report having no financial relationship with the organization that sponsored the research. The authors also declare having full control of all primary data and agree to allow the journal to review their data if requested.
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