Sexual experiences of cancer survivors: A qualitative study in Jordan
Background In Jordan, cancer is the second leading cause of death after cardiac disease. The impact of cancer on sexual relationships is a taboo subject and hence, such issues are underreported research among Jordanian people examining unmet needs. Aim To examine the experiences and preferences of Jordanian cancer survivors related to communication regarding their sexual needs. Methods Qualitative study conducted between May and June 2020 using semi-structured face-toface interviews using the snow-balling approach for recruitment. Participants were recruited until data saturation was obtained and data were analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis. Results Analysis of participants' interview data identified three main categories: 1) The psychological impact of cancer of sexual relationships; 2) Physician support; 3) Variations in sexual life and sexual experiences. Conclusion The study revealed that there is a substantial psychological impact of cancer on sexual relationships among Arab Jordanian cancer survivors. Feeling powerless, being labelled as 'sexually disabled', and lack of communication with physicians were emphasized by participants as a barrier to discuss sexual needs with their physicians. Lack of physicians support negatively impact Jordanian cancer survivors sexual experience and led to increased their sense of powerlessness and loss of control over sexual relationships. Implications for practice Overall, the study indicated a crucial need for physicians to encourage patients to disclose their sexual experience to help them maintain their sexual and mental health while in the fight against cancer. The physicians, nurses and allied health professionals should be engaged in the conversation with patients by taking an active role in the discussion. Additionally, the family and partners of the patients should also be approached and engaged by health professionals in the discussion to address their needs or sexual issues.
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