Publication Abstract

Authors: Depke JL, Onitilo AA

Title: Sexual health assessment and counseling: oncology nurses' perceptions, practices, and perceived barriers.

Journal: J Community Support Oncol 13(12):442-3

Date: 2015 Dec

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Cancer-related sexual dysfunction has a negative impact on patient quality of life. OBJECTIVE: To describe oncology nurses' perceptions, practices, and perceived barriers regarding sexual health assessment and counseling. METHODS: In 2005, a 31-item questionnaire was mailed to 56 oncology nurses employed at 6 regional cancer care centers in northern, central, and western Wisconsin. Questions captured demographic information about the nurses and information about attitudes, perceptions, and practice patterns regarding patient sexual health counseling, and the barriers to discussing sexuality with patients. RESULTS: Nearly 70% of mailed surveys were returned completed. Most of the respondents believed that sexual health concerns were important and that it was appropriate for nurses to discuss patient sexual concerns, but less than one-third of the nurses said they had offered to discuss sexual concerns with patients in the previous 12 months. Few respondents reported feeling adequately knowledgeable about talking to patients about concerns about sexual health, and more than 90% thought that additional training in sexual health counseling would increase their confidence in addressing sexual health issues. LIMITATIONS: Study findings are limited by validity of the survey instrument and issues related to self-report. Sensitivity of the topic may have resulted in selection bias. CONCLUSIONS: Sexual health among patients with cancer was recognized as important, but was discussed infrequently. Additional training may improve the ability of oncology nurses to provide sexual health counseling to patients.