Beyond barriers: fundamental 'disconnects' underlying the treatment of breast cancer patients' sexual health
CULTURE HEALTH & SEXUALITY
2014; 16 (9): 1169-1180
The impact of "significant others" on breast cancer patients' treatment decision making.
Journal of clinical oncology
2012; 30 (34_): 20-?
Sexual health concerns represent one of the most frequently experienced and longest-lasting effects of breast cancer treatment, but research suggests that service providers rarely discuss sexual health with their patients. Existing research examining barriers to addressing patients' sexual health concerns has focused on discrete characteristics of the provider-patient interaction without considering the broader context in which these interactions occur. Drawing on the experiences of 21 breast cancer survivors, this paper explores three ways in which fundamental cultural and structural characteristics of the cancer care system in the USA may prevent breast cancer survivors from addressing their sexual health concerns, including: (1) when patients discussed sexual health with their providers, their providers approached sexuality as primarily physical, while participants experienced complex, multidimensional sexual health concerns; (2) specialisation within cancer care services made it difficult for patients to identify the appropriate provider to address their concerns; and (3) the structure of cancer care literally disconnects patients from the healthcare system at the time when sexual side effects commonly emerged. These data suggest that addressing breast cancer survivors' sexual health concerns requires a multifaceted approach to health systems change.
View details for DOI 10.1080/13691058.2014.939227
View details for Web of Science ID 000342208800012
20 Background: Shared medical decision making (SDM) has been lauded by advocates for its potential to democratize the patient-physician relationship. However, the practice of SDM is still conceived of as largely a dyadic moment that exists between the patient and the physician. Few studies have looked at the role of significant others (spouses, partners, family members and friends) in decision making or considered how discussions and actions outside the consultation room affect a patient's medical decisions. This prospective study investigated the impact of significant others on the decision making deliberations of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.Forty-one newly diagnosed breast cancer patients were interviewed at four critical time points throughout treatment to explore how they deliberated decisions with both care providers and significant others. Surveys assessing HRQOL, role preferences and treatment satisfaction along with EHR abstraction augmented interview data. Grounded theory analysis was used to identify recurrent themes in the qualitative data, and survey data were analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistics 20.Emergent themes from our analysis identified several factors that patients consider when faced with cancer treatment decisions, including 1) presentation of treatment options 2) patient or significant other conflict/concordance with care team recommendations 3) perceived risk of recurrence and 4) short and long term impact of treatment on daily life. Participants stressed the need for clinicians to view patients beyond diagnosis and recognize their larger care network as influential factors in their decision making.Our interviews highlight how the current healthcare delivery structure rarely acknowledges the circles of care that can exert influence on decision making. Lack of attention to non-clinical others can lead to sub-optimal medical decision making because these influences are not adequately understood by clinicians. Findings from this study suggest the need to enhance clinicians' and researchers' understanding of the influence of others in patients' treatment decision making, enabling them to intervene in these practices.
View details for DOI 10.1200/jco.2012.30.34_suppl.20
View details for PubMedID 28146982