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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Women's experiences completing an online psychoeducational intervention for sexual health after cancer : a narrative inquiry Breckon, Erin Nicole


Psychoeducational interventions have been found to be effective in helping patients with distressing sexual sequelae commonly experienced after cancer treatment that can persist for years. Geographical barriers, time, financial constraints, and embarrassment/ discomfort prevent a large number of patients from accessing in-person psychosexual support. Quantitative results of a pilot online psychoeducation intervention for sexual health after cancer (OPES) revealed the program helped improve sexually-related distress, depressive symptoms and all domains of sexual response (i.e., desire, arousal, orgasm, lubrication, satisfaction, and pain) among 46 partnered women which were maintained at the 6-month follow-up. A high attrition rate (56.25%) and lengthy program completion times (M=30 weeks) suggest the program may have been helpful for a subset of female reproductive and colorectal cancer survivors. The current study implemented a narrative methodology in order to gain deeper insight into how OPES was experienced by six women who completed the program. In in-depth, in-person, largely unstructured interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, analysed, and constructed into 6 individual narrative summaries (presented in full). A cross-case analysis between the 6 summaries revealed several common themes and subthemes subsumed under perceived benefits and challenges in completing the program, motivations, and suggested program improvements. Results are presented herein. Individual bio-psycho-social factors influenced the degree of distress that women experienced in completing the program and how helpful it was in improving their “sexual functioning.” These findings highlight the importance of incorporating qualitative research in improving our understanding of how such programs are perceived and experienced as helpful by those who participate in them. Implications for future research on psychoeducational interventions for the sexual sequelae of cancer and its treatment are also discussed.

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