Sexual well-being in cancer and palliative care: an assessment of healthcare professionals’ current practice and training needs

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Abstract

Sexual well-being is often significantly affected by cancer and its treatments. Previous research shows that a patient's sexual well-being is often overlooked in clinical practice.

Objectives

The aims of this study were twofold. First, to determine the current practice of healthcare professionals (HCPs) working with cancer and palliative care patients in primary and secondary care settings in relation to sexual well-being. Second, to determine the education requirements of HCPs regarding the management of sexual well-being concerns of cancer/palliative care patients.

Methods

An anonymous electronic questionnaire was sent to assess current practice and education needs relating to the management of sexual well-being in cancer and palliative care.

Results

The majority of HCPs did not routinely assess sexual well-being in cancer and palliative care patients, with only 13.8% of secondary care staff, 7.9% of district nurses and 4% of general practitioners (GPs) routinely assessing it. The most frequent reason for non-assessment was that it was not the presenting symptom. The majority of respondents felt further support and training would be of benefit, including knowledge of specialist services patients could be referred to, written information for patients and access to assessment tools.

Conclusions

This survey identified that sexual well-being in cancer and palliative care patients is not routinely assessed with the majority of respondents stating that further support and training would be beneficial. The results of this questionnaire will be used to inform and develop sexual well-being training for HCPs working with cancer and palliative care patients.

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