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The Longitudinal Effects of Cancer Treatment on Sexuality in Individuals With Lung Cancer

Judith A. Shell
Marsha Carolan
Ying Zhang
Karen Dow Meneses
ONF 2008, 35(1), 73-79 DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.73-79

Purpose/Objectives: To examine changes in sexual functioning during treatment for lung cancer and the extent to which age, gender, social support, and mood status affect sexual dysfunction.

Design: Prospective, exploratory.

Setting: Outpatient cancer clinic.

Sample: 59 of 84 eligible patients diagnosed with small cell or non-small cell lung cancer.

Methods: The Derogatis Interview for Sexual Function, Self-Report, to measure sexual functioning; the Social Provisions Scale to measure social support; and the Derogatis Affects Balance Scale to measure mood status were administered at diagnosis and at two and four months during treatment.

Main Research Variables: Level of sexual function, treatment, age, gender, social support, and mood status.

Findings: Results indicate a decrease in sexual function but no significant change in sexual function between the two treatment groups. Age was a significant factor affecting sexual function. Gender significantly affected sexual function at time 2 only. Between times 1 and 2, mood status had a significant relationship with sexual function. Social support did not affect sexual function directly; social support was found to significantly affect mood status.

Conclusions: Most patients reported below-normal sexual function at baseline. Sexual function worsened over time. Further research is warranted to examine time, place, and type of intervention needed.

Implications for Nursing: New data encourage assessment, intervention, and research related to the sexual function of patients with lung cancer.

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