Purpose: Breast cancer patients commonly experience sexual concerns, yet rarely discuss them with clinicians. The study examined patient and provider experiences and preferences related to communication about breast cancer-related sexual concerns with the goal of informing intervention development. Methods: Patient data (n = 28) were derived from focus groups and interviews with partnered and unpartnered women treated for breast cancer reporting sexual concerns. Provider data (n = 11) came from interviews with breast cancer oncologists and nurse practitioners. Patient and provider data were analyzed separately using the framework method of qualitative analysis. Results: Findings revealed individual and institutional barriers to effective communication about sexual concerns and highlighted key communication facilitators (e.g., a positive patient-provider relationship, patient communication as a driver of provider communication, and vice versa). Patients expressed preferences for open, collaborative communication; providers expressed preferences for focused intervention targets (identifying concerns, offering resources/referrals) and convenient format. A model of effective communication of sexual concerns was developed to inform communication interventions. Conclusions: Findings suggest that to improve patient-provider communication about sexual concerns, knowledge and skills-based interventions that activate patients and that equip providers for effective discussions about sexual concerns are needed, as are institutional changes that could incentivize such discussions.
- Breast cancer
- Patient-provider communication
- Qualitative research
ASJC Scopus subject areas