A Brief Intervention to Minimize Psychosexual Morbidity in Dyads Coping With Breast Cancer

Carol L. Decker

Shobha Pais

Kathy D. Miller

Robert Goulet

Betsy L. Fife

psychosocial support systems, sexuality, breast neoplasms
ONF 2012, 39(2), 176-185. DOI: 10.1188/12.ONF.176-185

Purpose/Objectives: To develop and evaluate the feasibility of a brief intervention to attenuate the incidence of psychosexual morbidity within the dyad secondary to the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

Design: Quasiexperimental, including intervention and treatment-as-usual comparison groups.

Setting: Breast clinic of a comprehensive cancer center in the Midwest United States.

Sample: 65 recently diagnosed breast cancer survivors who were pre- or perimenopausal and aged 20-55 years, and their partners.

Methods: Three intervention sessions were delivered based on a manual developed for the study. Twenty-five dyads received treatment as usual, 26 dyads received a face-to-face intervention, and 14 dyads received the same intervention by telephone. Questionnaires were completed at baseline, following completion of the intervention, six months postintervention, and from the comparison group at equivalent data points.

Main Research Variables: Intimacy, sexual functioning, and dyadic adjustment.

Findings: About 98% of dyads completed all intervention sessions, with an equal level of satisfaction among those in the telephone and face-to-face groups. Interesting trends in differences between the intervention and comparison groups on the relationship variables of intimacy, sexual functioning, and dyadic adjustment were obtained; however, given the sample size, power was not sufficient to reach statistical significance.

Conclusions: The intervention is feasible and acceptable for dyads comfortable discussing their relationship. Intervention by telephone was demonstrated to be as effective as the face-to-face mode of delivery.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses need to provide an opportunity for women to discuss problems they are experiencing relative to sexuality, intimacy, and body image.

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