Sexual health-related care needs among young adult cancer patients and survivors: A systematic literature review

V. Lehmann*, E.T.M. Laan, B.L. den Oudsten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: 

Young adult cancer patients and survivors have age-specific care needs, but care needs related to sexual health are poorly understood. A systematic literature review was conducted to examine sexual health-related care needs among patients/survivors diagnosed with cancer during young adulthood (age: 18–39 years). The prevalence and types needs were assessed along with associated patient factors. 

Methods: 

Four major databases were screened to identify relevant studies, which were also assessed for risk of bias; all following PRISMA guidelines. Results: Identified studies (N = 35) often assessed sexual health-related care needs by whether participants experienced a generic need for support from providers. The prevalence of such needs ranged between 8 and 61.7% and was higher in female survivors and those with more health impairments. The type of diagnosis could also play a role in these varying prevalence rates, but was not systematically tested in included studies. Types of sexual health-related care needs were clustered into practical/emotional support needs (e.g., coping with physical side effects), information needs (e.g., more details), and communication needs (e.g., providers should initiate conversations, validate concerns, be empathetic/open). Needs should be addressed in-person and/or online. 

Conclusions: 

The extent of needs related to sexual health varies among young adult patients and survivors, but types of needs center around improving provision of support and information by providers. 

Implications for Cancer Survivors: 

Sexual health should routinely be addressed alongside other potential effects of cancer treatment to allow for constructive conversations between patients and providers. Referrals to (online) resources or specialists should be tailored to individual preferences.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

Keywords

  • ADOLESCENT
  • BREAST-CANCER
  • COMMUNICATION
  • Cancer (survivorship) care
  • Communication
  • EXPERIENCES
  • INFORMATION
  • Information
  • Needs
  • PREFERENCES
  • ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS
  • SERVICE NEEDS
  • Sexual health
  • UNMET NEEDS
  • WOMEN
  • Young adult oncology

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