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Sexual well-being in cancer and palliative care: an assessment of healthcare professionals’ current practice and training needs
  1. Aoife Gleeson1 and
  2. Emily Hazell2
  1. 1Department of Palliative Medicine, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Gwent, UK
  2. 2Department of Psychology, Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Aoife Gleeson, Palliative Medicine, Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr, Ystrad Mynach, Newport cf827ep, UK; Aoife.Gleeson{at}wales.nhs.uk

Abstract

Sexual well-being is often significantly affected by cancer and its treatments. Previous research shows that a patient's sexual well-being is often overlooked in clinical practice.

Objectives The aims of this study were twofold. First, to determine the current practice of healthcare professionals (HCPs) working with cancer and palliative care patients in primary and secondary care settings in relation to sexual well-being. Second, to determine the education requirements of HCPs regarding the management of sexual well-being concerns of cancer/palliative care patients.

Methods An anonymous electronic questionnaire was sent to assess current practice and education needs relating to the management of sexual well-being in cancer and palliative care.

Results The majority of HCPs did not routinely assess sexual well-being in cancer and palliative care patients, with only 13.8% of secondary care staff, 7.9% of district nurses and 4% of general practitioners (GPs) routinely assessing it. The most frequent reason for non-assessment was that it was not the presenting symptom. The majority of respondents felt further support and training would be of benefit, including knowledge of specialist services patients could be referred to, written information for patients and access to assessment tools.

Conclusions This survey identified that sexual well-being in cancer and palliative care patients is not routinely assessed with the majority of respondents stating that further support and training would be beneficial. The results of this questionnaire will be used to inform and develop sexual well-being training for HCPs working with cancer and palliative care patients.

  • sexuality
  • palliative care
  • Cancer
  • Quality of life
  • Survivorship
  • Psychological care

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Footnotes

  • Contributors All persons who meet authorship criteria are listed as authors, and all authors certify that they have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for the content, including participation in the concept, design, analysis, writing or revision of the manuscript. Furthermore, each author certifies that this material or similar material has not been and will not be submitted to or published in any other publication before its appearance in the BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care.

  • Contributions by authors are listed below:

  • Conception or design of the work is contributed by AG and EH. Data collection is performed by AG and EH. Data analysis/interpretation is performed by AG and EH. Drafting the article is performed by AG and EH. Critical revision of the article is performed by AG and EH. Final approval of the version to be published is provided by AG, EH.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study included human subjects. The study was granted approval by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board Research and Development Department.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Additional data from this questionnaire study is available to the BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care through the corresponding author AG.

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