Sisters Peer Counseling in Reproductive Issues After Treatment (SPIRIT): A peer counseling program to improve reproductive health among African American breast cancer survivors

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BACKGROUND:African American breast cancer survivors may be at high risk for reproductive health problems, including menopause symptoms, sexual dysfunction, and distress about cancer-related infertility. The authors partnered with Sisters Network Inc. to create the Sisters Peer Counseling in Reproductive Issues After Treatment (SPIRIT) program, a culturally sensitive intervention program that combined a written workbook and peer counseling.METHODS:Three hundred women were randomized to receive either the workbook plus 3 in-person sessions with a trained peer counselor or the workbook plus ≤30 minutes of telephone counseling to be initiated by the participant. Questionnaires at baseline, post-treatment, and at 6-month and 12-month follow-up assessed emotional distress, sexual function, relationship satisfaction, spirituality, menopause symptoms, and knowledge. Satisfaction with the program and the use of medical care also were assessed.RESULTS:Both groups of women improved significantly in knowledge, decreased in distress, and had decreased hot flashes. Sexually active women had improved sexual function at 6-month follow-up but not at 1 year. However, peer counseling had little incremental benefit over the telephone counseling.CONCLUSIONS:The SPIRIT program was rated very useful by 66% of women. Outcomes justify continued use of the workbook and further research to optimize the impact of peer counseling. Cancer 2011;. © 2011 American Cancer Society.African American breast cancer survivors were randomized to receive either a workbook that promoted reproductive health plus up to 30 minutes of telephone counseling or the workbook with 3 sessions of face-to-face peer counseling. Both groups improved by 1-year follow-up in knowledge, distress, and hot flashes.

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