"a kaleidoscope of relationships" - Cervical cancer survivors' perspectives on their intimate relationships: A qualitative study

Inbar Levkovich, Yaira Hamama-Raz, Shiri Shinan-Altman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective Cervical cancer is known to affect survivors' intimate relationships, as well as their communication and coping. Yet little is known about the perspectives of these survivors on their intimate relationships in the context of their needs during and after medical treatment. Additionally, only a few studies have focused on survivors' perceived needs or on existing psychosexual support. Understanding these perceptions can help provide a tailored response and improve dyadic interventions. The aim of this study was to examine cervical cancer survivors' perspectives on their intimate relationships during and after their treatment. Method The present study adopted a qualitative-phenomenological approach. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 survivors of cervical cancer between the ages of 38 and 44 who were diagnosed at stages I-II and were treated with radiotherapy or chemo-radiotherapy and surgery. Data collection continued until saturation of concepts was reached. The results underwent thematic analysis. Results Analysis of the findings revealed two key themes: (1) Together and apart in the shadow of cervical cancer. This theme focuses on the recovery period as a potential opportunity for changing and improving the couple relationship, such that men no longer withdraw but rather provide their partners with needed support and encouragement. (2) Changes in sexual life and couple intimacy. This theme focuses on changes in sexual relations, which have become a burden, painful, and something to avoid. Significance of results The study provides a comprehensive picture of intimate relationships during and after cervical cancer treatment and highlights the women's needs and desires for support from their intimate partners. The discussion notes that oncology providers can better facilitate supportiveness on the part of cervical cancer partners by offering better couple-oriented education and interventions to promote couple communication.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Cervical cancer
  • Intimate partner relationships
  • Sexuality
  • Survivors

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