Article

Sexual dysfunction and spousal communication in couples coping with prostate cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 18(7), 735-746

Department of Behavioral Science, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77230-1439, USA.
Psycho-Oncology (Impact Factor: 2.44). 07/2009; 18(7):735-46. DOI: 10.1002/pon.1449
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

To characterize the sexual function of both prostate cancer patients and their partners, and to examine whether associations between sexual dysfunction and psychosocial adjustment vary depending on spousal communication patterns.
In this cross-sectional study, 116 prostate cancer patients and their partners completed psychosocial questionnaires.
Patients and partners reported high rates of sexual dysfunction. Within couples, patients' and their partners' sexual function was moderately to highly correlated (r=0.30-0.74). When patients had poor erectile function, their partners were more likely to report that the couple avoided open spousal discussions; this in turn was associated with partners' marital distress (Sobel's Z=12.47, p=0.001). Patients and partners who reported high levels (+1SD) of mutual constructive communication also reported greater marital adjustment, regardless of their own sexual satisfaction. In contrast, greater sexual dissatisfaction was associated with poorer marital adjustment in patients and partners who reported low levels (-1SD) of mutual constructive communication (p<0.05).
Our findings underscore the need for psychosocial interventions that facilitate healthy spousal communication and address the sexual rehabilitation needs of patients and their partners after prostate cancer treatment. Although some couples may be reluctant to engage in constructive cancer-related discussions about sexual problems, such discussions may help alleviate the negative impact that sexual problems have on prostate cancer patients' and their partners' marital adjustment.

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    • "A systematic review (Higano, 2012) stated that while trials has documented a broad range of physiologic effects, few studies had focus on the psychosocial effects of androgen deprivation therapy on sexuality, physical changes, intimacy, and how these treatments affect a couple's relationship. Badr and Taylor (2009) found in a cross-sectional study including 116 couples a need for psychosocial interventions to facilitate healthy spousal communication and to address the sexual rehabilitation needs of patients and their partners after prostate cancer treatment. Although the delayed sexual side effects after radiotherapy with androgen deprivation therapy have been identified in the literature, information about the lived experience of men and their partners is limited. "
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    • "However, it is well documented that intimate partners desire communication and information about post-cancer sexual changes to their own sexual selves and their relationship (Gilbert et al. 2009), with some evidence that partners have a greater need for information than people with cancer (Lavery & Clarke 1999; Rees & Bath 2000). In addition, people with cancer have reported that it is important for their intimate partner to be included in discussions about sexuality with health professionals (Ellingson & Buzzanell 1999; Flynn et al. 2012), with open communication between people with cancer and their partner key to managing changes to sexuality (Lavery & Clarke 1999; Badr & Carmack Taylor 2009). This open communication has been found to be easier if health professionals include both the person with cancer and the partner in discussions about sexuality (Rasmusson & Thome 2008). "
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