Biomedical Research

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Patterns and predictors of healthcare-seeking for sexual problems among cervical cancer survivors: An exploratory study in China

Purpose of investigation: To understand the sexual healthcare needs among cervical cancer survivors and identify important pre-disposing factors that may potentially influence their willingness to seek healthcare for sexual problems.

Material and Methods: Patients with cervical cancer attending Gynecological oncology clinic in a tertiary-care hospital for post-treatment examinations were consecutively recruited between January 2014 and December 2015. Participants were assessed for their interest in sexual healthcare services and likelihood of visiting physicians for sexual problems.

Results: Among 173 consenting adult patients, 92 (53.2%) expressed interest in sexual healthcare services. However, 43 (24.9%) subjects were likely to see physicians to resolve sexual problems and only 5 (2.9%) did that in recent years. Older and diagnosed with advanced stage cancer patients had relatively less interest and willingness for seeking care for sexual problems compared to those younger and early-stage patients. Intention for seeking sexual healthcare was positively associated with time since last treatment. Social aspects expressed as ‘feeling embarrassment or shame’ and ‘worrying about prejudices or stigma’ appeared to be the commonest barriers for care-seeking for sexual issues.

Conclusions: Among cervical cancer patients, there may be remained an unmet and needed regarding healthcare-seeking for sexual problems. Urgent interventions incorporating psychosocial support appeared to be the need of the hour.

Author(s): Lianqing Zhou, Limin Qing, Boyong Shen, Zhihong Jin, Huayun Liu, Yongyi Chen