An evaluation of a therapeutic radiographer led Sexual Care after Radiotherapy clinic


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Heather Nisbet, Loryn Caulfield

Abstract

Background

Changes to sexuality and intimacy are a common consequence of cancer treatment. Difficulties with sexual functioning and body image associated with treatment have been reported in over 50% of those treated for pelvic malignancies or breast cancer. Many patients do not receive any support or information. Evidence shows that patients who have the opportunity to discuss sexual issues experience reduced sexual morbidity. A therapeutic radiographer led Sexual Care after Radiotherapy clinic was developed to address this gap in service provision and to provide information, specific suggestions and support for sexual dysfunction as a result of radiotherapy treatment.  This study aims to assess the impact of the clinic on patient satisfaction and experience.

Method

Quantitative data was collected from anonymous NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT) patient questionnaires to assess how patients rated the service on a scale from not likely to extremely likely to recommend the service.  A qualitative, thematic analysis of the comments provided insight into patient satisfaction and experience.

Results

Overall, 31 patients attended the clinic from 2019 to 2020. 71% of referrals were male and 29% female.  An 80% return rate of FFT questionnaire’s showed 96% of patients were extremely likely and 4% were likely to recommend the service. Thematic analysis of the written feedback showed three emergent themes: the quality of information provision, the conduct of the staff member and the consultation experience.  Patients stated that they were given a range of solutions and a number of comments indicated that the information was positive and instructive with specific suggestions given. Many cited a better understanding of their sexual issues and that the consultation gave them confidence and reassurance, making them feel hopeful and relaxed. All of the comments indicated a high level of satisfaction with the experience citing professionalism, kindness, compassion and feeling at ease to discuss their issues.

Conclusion

Sexual function is an important component of quality of life and sexual dysfunction can cause on-going distress, interfering with recovery. The clinic offers an opportunity to discuss issues and provides an important mechanism of support for patients to live with and beyond their cancer diagnosis.

Impact statement