Sexual Wellbeing after Colorectal Cancer Treatment: Results from the Colorectal Wellbeing Study


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Jane Frankland1, Sally Wheelwright, Natalia Permyakova, David Wright, Nicole Collaco, Peter Smith, Lynn Calman, Jane Winter, Alison Richardson, Claire Foster
1University of Southampton

Abstract

Background

Research into the effects of colorectal cancer (CRC) on sexual health is often focussed on functional outcomes rather than sexual wellbeing (SWB). This study used a measure of sexual satisfaction and bother to investigate SWB up to 5 years after CRC treatment with curative intent and to identify variables associated with low SWB.

Method

The ColoREctal Wellbeing study (CREW) is a multi-centre cohort study investigating recovery of health and wellbeing following CRC. Questionnaires were administered pre-surgery and at 3, 9, 15, 24, 36, 48 and 60 months. Longitudinal analyses of 790 participants explored the prevalence of low SWB and associated clinical and psychosocial variables over 60 months.

Results

Men were significantly more likely than women to have low SWB over 60 months. Whilst SWB declined for men over 60 months, this was not the case for women. Regression models could not be performed for women participants due to the small numbers reporting low SWB. For men, few clinical and sociodemographic variables were predictive of low SWB. In terms of psychosocial variables, low self-efficacy (confidence to manage), lower social support and clinically significant depression predicted low SWB.

Conclusion

More men than women reported poor long-term SWB following CRC treatment. Psychosocial factors before treatment could be helpful in identifying people at risk of low SWB, which indicates the potential of early intervention.

Impact statement

Whilst research into sexual health for people with CRC has typically focused on functional outcomes, this study demonstrates the long-term impact on sexual wellbeing, which highlights the importance of psychosocial research in this area, particularly the development and evaluation of early interventions.