Effective patient-provider communication about sexual concerns in breast cancer: a qualitative study.
ABSTRACT: PURPOSE:Breast cancer patients commonly experience sexual concerns, yet rarely discuss them with clinicians. The study examined patient and provider experiences and preferences related to communication about breast cancer-related sexual concerns with the goal of informing intervention development. METHODS:Patient data (n = 28) were derived from focus groups and interviews with partnered and unpartnered women treated for breast cancer reporting sexual concerns. Provider data (n = 11) came from interviews with breast cancer oncologists and nurse practitioners. Patient and provider data were analyzed separately using the framework method of qualitative analysis. RESULTS:Findings revealed individual and institutional barriers to effective communication about sexual concerns and highlighted key communication facilitators (e.g., a positive patient-provider relationship, patient communication as a driver of provider communication, and vice versa). Patients expressed preferences for open, collaborative communication; providers expressed preferences for focused intervention targets (identifying concerns, offering resources/referrals) and convenient format. A model of effective communication of sexual concerns was developed to inform communication interventions. CONCLUSIONS:Findings suggest that to improve patient-provider communication about sexual concerns, knowledge and skills-based interventions that activate patients and that equip providers for effective discussions about sexual concerns are needed, as are institutional changes that could incentivize such discussions.
Project description:PURPOSE:Cancer survivors' needs around sexual concerns are often unmet. The primary objective of this systematic review was to examine the prevalence of and factors associated with patient-provider communication about sexual concerns in cancer. METHODS:Using PRISMA guidelines, we searched PubMed/MEDLINE, PsychInfo, and CINAHL databases for peer-reviewed quantitative research papers (2000-2015) in cancer samples. Search terms across three linked categories were used (sexuality, communication, and cancer). The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Sexual Function Guidelines were used as a framework to categorize communication reported in each study. RESULTS:Twenty-nine studies from 10 countries (29 % in USA) were included. Studies assessed patients only (21), providers only (4), and both (4). Communication measures differed across studies and many lacked validity data. When reported by patients or providers, the average prevalence of discussing potential treatment effects on sexual function was 50 (60 % for men and 28 % for women) and 88 %, respectively. As reported by patients or providers, respectively, assessing patients' sexual concerns (10 and 21 %) and offering treatments (22 and 17 %) were measured in fewer studies and were reported less frequently. Both patients and providers (28 and 32 %, respectively) reported a low prevalence of other non-specific communication. Greater prevalence of communication was associated with male patient gender and more years of provider experience. CONCLUSIONS:Sexual issues go unaddressed for many cancer survivors, particularly women. Both patient and provider interventions are needed. IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS:Enhancing patient-provider communication about sexual concerns through evidence-based interventions could improve patient sexual function and quality of life.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Sexual health is important to quality of life; however, the sexual health of gynecologic cancer patients is infrequently and inadequately addressed. We sought to understand patient experiences and preferences for sexual health care to help inform strategies for improvement. METHODS/MATERIALS:An anonymous, cross-sectional survey of outpatient gynecologic cancer patients at a large academic medical center was performed as part of a larger study examining patient and caregiver needs. The survey explored patient-provider discussions about sexuality across 3 domains (experiences, preferences, barriers) and 4 phases of cancer care (diagnosis, treatment, treatment completion, follow-up). Age, relationship status, sexual activity, and cancer type were recorded. RESULTS:Mean age was 63 years. Most patients had ovarian cancer (38%) or endometrial cancer (32%). Thirty-seven percent received treatment within the last month, 55% were in a relationship, and 35% were sexuality active. Thirty-four percent reported sexuality as somewhat or very important, whereas 27% felt that it was somewhat or very important to discuss. Importance of sexuality was associated with age, relationship status, and sexual activity but not cancer type. Fifty-seven percent reported never discussing sexuality. Age was associated with sexuality discussions, whereas relationship status, sexual activity, and cancer type were not. The most common barrier to discussion was patient discomfort. Follow-up was identified as the best time for discussion. Sexuality was most often discussed with a physician or advanced practice provider and usually brought up by the provider. CONCLUSIONS:Demographic predictors of importance of sexuality to the patient are age, relationship status, and sexual activity. Providers primarily use age as a proxy for importance of sexuality; however, relationship status and sexual activity may represent additional ways to screen for patients interested in discussing sexual health. Patient discomfort with discussing sexuality is the primary barrier to sexual health discussions, and awareness of this is key to developing effective approaches to providing sexual health care.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Limited patient-provider communication about sexual health is a crucial barrier to patients receiving treatment for sexual problems, and little is known about how patient sexual orientation is associated with patient-provider communication about sexual problems. OBJECTIVE:To describe the prevalence of patient-provider communication about sexual problems and the associations between communication and (1) persistent sexual problems and (2) whether those who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual had disclosed their sexual orientation to their clinicians. DESIGN:Cross-sectional, online survey PARTICIPANTS: 4325 English-speaking US adults from KnowledgePanel®, a probability-based sample of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population. MAIN MEASURES:Sexual orientation, disclosure of sexual orientation (being "out") to a health care provider, communication with health care providers regarding sexual problems or concerns, and persistent sexual problems or concerns. KEY RESULTS:In the past year, 8-15% of US adults discussed a sexual problem or concern with a health care provider. Between 23 and 42% of US adults reported persistent sexual problem(s) in the past year, and of those, 18% of gay/lesbian women, 20% of heterosexual women, 22% of bisexual women, 30% of gay men, 31% of heterosexual men, and 37% of bisexual men had discussed a sexual concern with a clinician. Eighty percent of gay/lesbian women and 70% of gay men had disclosed their sexual orientation to their regular health care provider, versus only 24% of bisexual men and women. Among those who were "out," 30% had ever talked to a clinician about a sexual problem compared with 17% of those who were not "out." A smaller proportion of lesbian women had ever received care or treatment for a sexual problem, 6% compared with 14-23% in the other groups. CONCLUSIONS:There are significant unmet needs among US adults with regard to patient-provider communication about sexual problems or concerns. Improving patient-provider communication about sexual health is critical.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Sexual concerns are often unaddressed for breast cancer patients; one reason is inadequate clinician training. We examined the feasibility, acceptability, and potential benefits of a novel intervention, improving Sexual Health and Augmenting Relationships through Education (iSHARE) for breast cancer clinicians. METHODS:Clinicians received training in communicating about sexual concerns with breast cancer patients. Intervention feasibility and acceptability were measured through enrollment/participation and postintervention program evaluations, respectively. Intervention effects were assessed through (1) clinician self-reported beliefs about sexual health communication, assessed at baseline, post-intervention, and 1- or 6-month follow-up, (2) clinical communication coded from audio recorded, transcribed clinic encounters at preintervention or postintervention, and (3) patient satisfaction with clinical care, reported immediately after the clinic visit. Patients also reported sociodemographic characteristics and level of sexual concerns. RESULTS:Seven breast cancer clinicians enrolled (88% participation), completed the intervention, and were audio recorded in clinic encounters with 134 breast cancer outpatients (67 each at preintervention or postintervention). Program evaluations supported intervention acceptability. Effect sizes suggest iSHARE increased clinicians' self-efficacy (d = 0.27) and outcome expectancies for communicating about sexual concerns (d = 0.69) and reduced communication barriers (d = -0.14). Clinicians' sexual health communication behaviors increased from baseline to postintervention, including for raising the topic (28% vs 48%), asking questions (33% vs 45%), and offering information (18% vs 24%). Neither patient satisfaction nor duration of sexual health communication changed (mean duration less than 1 minute at both time points). CONCLUSIONS:The iSHARE intervention was feasible and well received by clinicians and may change breast cancer clinicians' beliefs and communication behaviors regarding sexual health.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:Chemotherapy for breast cancer has been associated with cognitive problems; however, the impact of adjuvant hormone therapy is less clear. No studies have explored provider discussions about cognitive concerns or factors associated with neurocognitive treatment. This study examined cognitive problems, factors associated with having a provider discussion, and receipt of neurocognitive treatment. METHODS:Female breast cancer survivors (N=2,537) from the Sister Study and the Two Sister Study who were at least 1 year post-treatment were surveyed in 2012 about their cancer therapies (confirmed by medical records); cognitive concerns; related provider discussions; and neurocognitive treatment. A total of 2,296 women were included in the current 2014 analysis. Extensive covariate information was also ascertained for predictive multivariate models. RESULTS:The prevalence of self-reported cognitive problems after treatment was 60%. Of those reporting cognitive problems, only 37% had discussed those concerns with a provider and 15% had been treated for cognitive symptoms. The odds of reported cognitive concerns that started during and after treatment were elevated for those who received only hormone therapy and no chemotherapy (OR=1.64, 95% CI=1.15, 2.33); chemotherapy and no hormone therapy (OR=5.63, 95% CI=3.52, 9.00); or both (OR=6.33, 95% CI=4.21, 9.54) compared with those reporting neither treatment. CONCLUSIONS:The high prevalence of cognitive concerns underscores the importance of monitoring breast cancer survivors for potential neurocognitive effects of hormone and chemotherapy, discussions with survivors about those concerns, and treatment referrals. Monitoring changes over time can help to evaluate both psychosocial and neurocognitive care provided for survivors.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Advances in communication technology have enabled new methods of delivering test results to cancer survivors. We sought to determine patient preferences regarding the use of newer technology in delivering test results during cancer surveillance. METHODS:A single institutional, cross-sectional analysis of the preferences of adult cancer survivors regarding the means (secure digital communication versus phone call or office visit) to receive surveillance test results was undertaken. RESULTS:Among 257 respondents, the average age was 59.1 years (SD 13.5) and 61.8% were female. Common malignancies included melanoma/sarcoma (29.5%), thyroid (25.7%), breast (22.8%), and gastrointestinal (22.0%) cancer. Although patients expressed a relative preference to receive normal surveillance results via MyChart or secure e-mail, the majority preferred abnormal imaging (87.2%) or blood results (85.9%) to be communicated by in-office appointments or phone calls irrespective of age or cancer type. Patients with a college degree or higher were more likely to prefer electronic means of communication of abnormal blood results compared with a telephone call or in-person visit (odds ratio 2.18, 95% confidence interval: 1.01-4.73, P < .05). In contrast, patients >65 years were more likely to express a preference for telephone or in-person communication of normal imaging results (odds ratio: 2.03, 95% CI: 1.16-3.56, P < .05) versus patients ?65 years. Preference also varied according to malignancy type. CONCLUSION:Although many cancer patients preferred to receive "normal" surveillance results electronically, the majority preferred receiving abnormal results via direct conversation with their provider. Shifting routine communication of normal surveillance results to technology-based applications may improve patient satisfaction and decrease health care system costs.
Project description:PURPOSE:To identify opportunities for improving patient-centered communication about diagnostic imaging tests that involve the use of radiation in a cancer care setting. MATERIALS AND METHODS:Institutional review board approval and informed consent were obtained for this HIPAA-compliant study. Patient knowledge, information sources, and communication preferences were assessed in six focus groups during 2012. The groups consisted of patients undergoing treatment for metastatic colorectal carcinoma, women treated within the past 6 months for early-stage breast carcinoma, men undergoing surveillance after testicular cancer treatment, parents of patients treated for stage I-III neuroblastoma, patients in a thoracic oncology survivorship program, and participants in a lung cancer screening program. A multidisciplinary research team performed thematic content analysis of focus group transcripts. High-level findings were summarized during consensus conferences. RESULTS:Although they were aware of the long-term risk of cancer from exposure to ionizing radiation, most participants reported that their health care provider did not initiate discussion about benefits and risks of radiation from imaging tests. Most patients obtained information by means of self-directed internet searches. Participants expressed gratitude for tests ("That CT saved my daughter's life," "I'd rather have the radiation dosage than being opened up"), yet they expressed concern about having to initiate discussions ("If you don't ask, nobody is going to tell you anything") and the desire to be offered information concerning the rationale for ordering specific imaging examinations, intervals for follow-up imaging, and testing alternatives. Participants believed that such information should be available routinely and that conversation with their personal physician or endorsed, readily available reference materials were ideal methods for information exchange. Understanding imaging radiation risks and active participation in decision making about imaging were especially important to cancer survivors. CONCLUSION:A substantial gap exists between patient expectations and current practices for providing information about medical imaging tests that involve the use of radiation.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Sexual concerns are distressing for breast cancer survivors and interfere with their intimate relationships. This study evaluates the efficacy of a four-session couple-based intervention delivered via telephone, called Intimacy Enhancement (IE). The IE intervention is grounded in social cognitive theory and integrates evidence-based techniques from cognitive behavioral couple therapy and sex therapy to address survivors' sexual concerns and enhance their and their partners' sexual, relationship, and psychological outcomes. METHODS:This trial is designed to evaluate the efficacy of the IE intervention in improving survivors' sexual function, the primary study outcome. Secondary outcomes include survivors' sexual distress, partners' sexual function, and survivors' and partners' relationship intimacy and quality as well as psychological distress (depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms). Additional aims are to examine whether treatment effects on patient sexual function are mediated by sexual communication and self-efficacy for coping with sexual concerns and to explore whether survivor age and race/ethnicity moderate intervention effects on survivors' sexual function. Eligible adult female breast cancer survivors reporting sexual concerns and their intimate partners are recruited from two academic sites in the USA and are randomized to either the IE intervention or to a control condition of equal length offering education and support around breast cancer-related health topics (Living Healthy Together). The target sample size is 120 couples. Self-report outcome measures are administered to participants in both conditions at baseline (T1), post-treatment (T2), 3 months post-treatment (T3), and 6 months post-treatment (T4). DISCUSSION:Evidence-based interventions are needed to address sexual concerns for breast cancer survivors and to enhance their and their intimate partners' sexual, relationship, and psychological well-being. This randomized controlled trial will allow us to examine the efficacy of a novel couple-based intervention delivered via telephone for breast cancer survivors experiencing sexual concerns and their intimate partners, in comparison with an attention control. Findings of this study could influence clinical care for women with breast cancer and inform theory guiding cancer-related sexual rehabilitation. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03930797. Registered on 24 April 2019.
Project description:End-stage renal disease carries a prognosis similar to cancer yet only 20 % of end-stage renal disease patients are referred to hospice. Furthermore, conversations between dialysis team members and patients about end-of-life planning are uncommon. Lack of provider training about how to communicate prognostic data may contribute to the limited number of end-of-life care discussions that take place with this chronically ill population. In this study, we will test the Shared Decision-Making Renal Supportive Care communication intervention to systematically elicit patient and caretaker preferences for end-of-life care so that care concordant with patients' goals can be provided.This multi-center study will deploy an intervention to improve end-of-life communication for hemodialysis patients who are at high risk of death in the ensuing six months. The intervention will be carried out as a prospective cohort with a retrospective cohort serving as the comparison group. Patients will be recruited from 16 dialysis units associated with two large academic centers in Springfield, Massachusetts and Albuquerque, New Mexico. Critical input from patient advisory boards, a stakeholder panel, and initial qualitative analysis of patient and caretaker experiences with advance care planning have informed the communication intervention. Rigorous communication training for hemodialysis social workers and providers will ensure that standardized study procedures are performed at each dialysis unit. Nephrologists and social workers will communicate prognosis and provide advance care planning in face-to-face encounters with patients and families using a social work-centered algorithm. Study outcomes including frequency and timing of hospice referrals, patient and caretaker satisfaction, quality of end-of-life discussions, and quality of death will be assessed over an 18 month period.The Shared Decision-Making Renal Supportive Care Communication intervention intends to improve discussions about prognosis and end-of-life care with end-stage renal disease patients. We anticipate that the intervention will help guide hemodialysis staff and providers to effectively participate in advance care planning for patients and caretakers to establish preferences and goals at the end of life.NCT02405312.
Project description:INTRODUCTION:In the USA, African American men bear a disproportionate burden of prostate cancer (PCa) compared with all other groups, having a higher incidence and mortality, poorer quality of life and higher dissatisfaction with care. They are also less likely to receive guideline-concordant treatment (eg, undertreatment of aggressive disease). Inadequate patient-provider communication contributes to suboptimal care, which can be exacerbated by patients' limited health literacy, providers' lack of communication skills and time constraints in low-resource, safety net settings. This study is designed to examine the communication experiences of African American patients with PCa as they undertake treatment decision-making. METHODS AND ANALYSIS:Using an ethnographic approach, we will follow 25 African American men newly diagnosed with PCa at two public hospitals, from diagnosis through treatment decision. Data sources include: (1) audio-recorded clinic observations during urology, radiation oncology, medical oncology and primary care visits, (2) field notes from clinic observations, (3) patient surveys after clinic visits, (4) two in-depth patient interviews, (5) a provider survey, and (6) in-depth interviews with providers. We will explore patients' understanding of their diagnoses and treatment options, sources of support in decision-making, patient-provider communication and treatment decision-making processes. Audio-recorded observations and interviews will be transcribed verbatim. An iterative process of coding and team discussions will be used to thematically analyse patients' experiences and providers' perspectives, and to refine codes and identify key themes. Descriptive statistics will summarise survey data. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION:To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine in-depth patient-provider communication among African American patients with PCa. For a population as marginalised as African American men, an ethnographic approach allows for explication of complex sociocultural and contextual influences on healthcare processes and outcomes. Study findings will inform the development of interventions and initiatives that promote patient-centred communication, shared decision-making and guideline-concordant care. This study was approved by the University of California San Francisco and the Alameda Health System Institutional Review Boards.