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Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 809–817 | Cite as

Supportive oncofertility care, psychological health and reproductive concerns: a qualitative study

  • Y. Wang
  • Shanna LoganEmail author
  • K. Stern
  • C. E. Wakefield
  • R. J. Cohn
  • F. Agresta
  • Y. Jayasinghe
  • R. Deans
  • E. Segelov
  • R. I. McLachlan
  • B. Gerstl
  • E. Sullivan
  • W. E. Ledger
  • A. Anazodo
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

Impaired fertility in cancer patients and survivors of reproductive age (15–45 years) may lead to psychological distress and poor mental health outcomes, and may negatively impact quality of life. Limited research has focused on the fertility experiences of those who have had access to supportive oncofertility care. This study aims to explore the fertility-care experiences and reproductive concerns of reproductive age cancer patients at the time of their cancer diagnosis who have had access to oncofertility care.

Methods

The qualitative data from a larger mixed method study is presented, comprising 30 semi-structured telephone interviews with newly diagnosed cancer patients across Australia and New Zealand, undertaken between April 2016 and April 2018.

Results

Interviews were undertaken with 9 male patients and 21 female patients aged between 15 and 44 years. All patients recalled a discussion about fertility and majority underwent some form of fertility preservation. Thematic analysis identified five main themes: (i) satisfaction with oncofertility care, (ii) a need for individualised treatment and support, (iii) desire for parenthood, (iv) fertility treatment can be challenging, and (v) fertility preservation provides a safety net for the future.

Conclusions

Participants who access supportive oncofertility care report low emotional impact of threatened future infertility at the time of cancer diagnosis. These results suggest that such services may assist in lowering the emotional burden of potential infertility in survivors. Long-term research is needed to assess the longitudinal benefits for different models of care.

Keywords

Oncology Fertility Fertility preservation Oncofertility Emotional well-being Psychological health 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to all the patients and family members who took part in this study sharing personal experiences so that we can improve oncofertility care.

Funding

This work is supported by funding from a Prince of Wales Foundation Champion’s Grant, CanTeen, and ANZCHOG joint funding for Concept Validation.

AA is supported by funding from the Kids Cancer Alliance (KCA) and CanTeen funding from the Federal Health Department.

CW is supported by a Career Development Fellowship from the NHMRC of Australia (APP1143767).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Wang
    • 1
  • Shanna Logan
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  • K. Stern
    • 5
    • 6
  • C. E. Wakefield
    • 1
    • 2
  • R. J. Cohn
    • 1
    • 2
  • F. Agresta
    • 5
    • 6
  • Y. Jayasinghe
    • 7
    • 8
    • 9
  • R. Deans
    • 1
    • 4
  • E. Segelov
    • 10
    • 11
  • R. I. McLachlan
    • 12
    • 13
  • B. Gerstl
    • 2
  • E. Sullivan
    • 14
  • W. E. Ledger
    • 1
    • 4
  • A. Anazodo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Women and Children’s Health, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Kids Cancer CentreSydney Children’s HospitalSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Nelune Comprehensive Cancer CentrePrince of Wales HospitalSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Fertility & Research CentreRoyal Hospital for WomenSydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Melbourne IVFMelbourneAustralia
  6. 6.Royal Women’s HospitalMelbourneAustralia
  7. 7.Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyThe University of Melbourne, Royal Women’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  8. 8.Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Royal Women’s HospitalThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  9. 9.Murdoch Children’s Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  10. 10.Monash HealthMelbourneAustralia
  11. 11.Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  12. 12.Monash IVFRichmondAustralia
  13. 13.Andrology Australia, School of Public Health and Preventive MedicineMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  14. 14.Faculty of HealthUniversity of TechnologySydneyAustralia

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