Survey of Oncology Providers' Attitudes and Practices in Evaluating Sexual Health in Cancer Care

J. Dubin, S. Patel, C. S. Seldon, R. Yechieli, Ranjith Ramasamy, B. Kava

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE(S): Many cancer patients are confronted with a variety of problems in sexual health function due to disease or treatment. Being a component of a patient's quality of life, many oncologists feel sexual health is an important topic of discussion, but only a minority of physicians actually address the patient's sexual health. Our goal was to assess the attitudes and practices among oncologists and their Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) towards sexual health. MATERIALS/METHODS: We administered a 19-item survey via email to 286 program directors for Radiation Oncology, Medical Oncology, Hematology Oncology and Surgical Oncology residency and fellowship programs with instructions to distribute among faculty and residents as well as to members of local oncologic organizations. 16 APPs and 70 Oncologists completed the survey. Statistical analysis was completed using Chi Square test via a statistical software. RESULTS: 82% of the providers believe that a discussion of sexual health issues is a part of their job, but only 17.4% discuss sexual dysfunction problems often or always. 33.7% of the providers report they discuss the possible effects of the illness on sexual functioning often or always. 38.4% of the providers report they discuss the possible effects of treatment on sexual functioning often or always. Of the cohort, 51.8% to 68.2% had received training in female sexual disorders of reduced libido, orgasm, vaginal lubrication and pain (percentage varied among disorder). Additionally, 48.2% to 62.8% of the providers had received training in male sexual disorders of reduced libido, testosterone deficiency, erection, ejaculation and orgasm (percentage varied among disorder). The data shows providers older than 40, with > 10 years of practice, and who work in private practice ask patients about their sexual health more often. Lastly, 62% never or rarely give their patients a referral to sexual health professionals to discuss sexual issues. CONCLUSION: Many providers identify that they have a role or obligation to talk about sexual health, but the practice of discussing sexual health needs and concerns remains infrequent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e158-e159
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics
Volume111
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research

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