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Sexual Well-Being Among Survivors of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Ellen Burke Beckjord
Neeraj K. Arora
Keith Bellizzi
Ann S. Hamilton
Julia H. Rowland
ONF 2011, 38(5), E351-E359 DOI: 10.1188/11.ONF.E351-E359

Purpose/Objectives: To describe sexual well-being among non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) survivors.

Design: Descriptive, correlational, cross-sectional study.

Setting: NHL survivors identified via the Los Angeles County Cancer Surveillance Program.

Sample: 222 NHL survivors two- to five-years postdiagnosis.

Methods: Data were collected via mailed questionnaire. Multivariate models were used to examine sexual well-being.

Main Research Variables: Three indices of sexual well-being were examined in relation to sociodemographic and medical variables: participation in sexual activity, satisfaction with sex life, and sexual function.

Findings: Most NHL survivors were participating in sexual activity; however, more than half were dissatisfied with their sex life. A substantial minority "usually or always" experienced problems with sexual function. Associations between study variables and outcomes differed across indices of sexual well-being and by gender; older age was associated with decreased participation, decreased satisfaction, and impaired sexual function for men as well as with decreased participation for women. Poorer physical functioning was associated with decreased participation for men and women as well as poorer sexual function for women. Finally, poorer mental functioning was associated with less satisfaction and poorer sexual function for men and women; shorter times since diagnosis were associated with poorer sexual function for women.

Conclusions: Most NHL survivors were sexually active, but many reported difficulties with satisfaction and function. Sexual well-being is a multifaceted construct that requires continued attention throughout survivorship.

Implications for Nursing: Oncology nurses are in an excellent position to ensure that survivors' sexual concerns are addressed. Survivorship care plans may help to facilitate communication about survivors' sexual well-being.

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