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Journal Club
Open Access Article

The Impact on Sexuality After Diagnosis and Treatment for a Hematologic Malignancy: Findings From Australia

Pam D. McGrath
ONF 2012, 39(6), 595-600 DOI: 10.1188/12.ONF.595-600

Purpose/Objectives: To present findings on the impact of diagnosis and treatment on sexuality for those diagnosed with a hematologic malignancy.

Research Approach: A qualitative design based on a series of open-ended interviews and one focus group.

Setting: Queensland, Australia.

Participants: 50 participants representing the major hematologic diagnostic groups.

Methodologic Approach: Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and then coded and thematically analyzed for the research.

Findings: The impact of the disease and treatment on sexuality ranged from participants experiencing no problems or having a brief impact that passes over time, to those who reported serious problems that significantly affected their life satisfaction. Some concerns were raised about the taboo nature of sexuality and the lack of discussion on the topic.

Conclusions: The findings contradict prior research that all patients with cancer will experience an impact on their sexuality by diagnosis and treatment. The current study indicates that a small subgroup of individuals diagnosed with hematologic malignancies are acutely distressed about issues regarding sexuality and require follow-up.

Interpretation: Individuals diagnosed with a hematologic malignancy may have difficulties with their sexuality and will, therefore, require follow-up or assistance. A subset of individuals will require understanding, support, and, for some, referral to follow-up with a specialist. As major obstacles still exist for patients accessing appropriate professional support and advice on sexuality, oncology nursing can provide leadership in this area.