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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Improving the sexual health of couples after prostate cancer : investigating the impact of mindfulness and CBT on the sexual health and intimacy of couples after prostate cancer and disseminating these therapies in a prostate cancer supportive care program Kemerer, Bibiana


Sexual dysfunction is the most common consequence of prostate cancer (PCa) treatment and has been shown to directly impact the sexual function and quality of life of survivors’ partners. Best evidence on the psychosexual adjustment of PCa survivors after treatments indicates that patients can benefit from psychological interventions that address the emotional needs of patients, and such interventions should involve their partners. However, prostate cancer care programs often lack psychological therapies for their patients. Through this project, I aimed to address the need for these therapies in both academic research and clinical care, with two distinct objectives: 1) To test two therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and mindfulness, in a sample of PCa survivor and partner couples through an RCT study design, and 2) to utilize Knowledge Translation to disseminate RCT findings to PCa patients and their partners through a Prostate Cancer Supportive Care program (PCSC). We first randomized PCa survivors and their partners to four consecutive weeks of either couples’ mindfulness therapy, couples’ CBT, or no treatment (control). Sexual distress and sexual satisfaction were significantly improved six weeks after both CBT and mindfulness interventions compared to the control group, but only sexual distress remained significantly improved at six months, and quality of life improved, particularly for survivors. For the second phase of this project, we used two Knowledge Translation (KT) frameworks--the Knowledge to Action Cycle and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research, to bring this evidence into practice. We partnered with the PCSC to collect data from PCa patients and staff, and used those data to implement patient education materials in the program. We created 1) an information card that explained CBT and mindfulness, which contained a link to 2) a patient education video that instructed patients on how to practice these skills at home, hosted on 3) a webpage with external CBT and mindfulness resource links (https://pcscprogram.ca/module-2/mind-cbt/). By testing and establishing therapies for these populations, and then moving them into clinical practice, we successfully brought together two areas in health research to improve the psychological aspects to sexual health for PCa patient and partner couples.

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