Objectives: Breast cancer patients’ sexual health needs are frequently unmet. We examined the prevalence and content of communication about sexual health between breast cancer patients and clinicians. Methods: Female breast cancer patients being seen in oncology clinic follow-up had a clinic visit audio recorded and self-reported sexual problems after the visit. Transcripts were coded for sexual health communication; data were analyzed descriptively or using Chi-square tests. Results: We recorded 67 patients (81% participation rate) interacting with one of 7 cancer clinicians (5 physicians; 2 advanced practice clinicians). Approximately 1/3 of women (n = 22) reported sexual problems; sexual health communication occurred with 10/22 of those women (45%). Across all 67 patients, 27 (40%) visits contained communication about sexual health. Seventy-percent of sexual health communication was clinician-initiated. When in-depth sexual health discussions occurred, the most common topics discussed were sexual inactivity (6), body image (5), vaginal dryness (4), and safety of sexual activity (2). Conclusion: Communication about sexual health was uncommon even for women reporting sexual problems and was largely initiated by clinicians. Practice implications: Because women with breast cancer often do not raise sexual concerns during clinic visits, breast cancer clinicians should raise the topic of sexual health for all patients.
- Breast cancer
- Dialogue analysis
- Patient-provider communication
- Sexual health
ASJC Scopus subject areas