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01.06.2020 | Review | Ausgabe 6/2020 Open Access

Journal of Cancer Survivorship 6/2020

Can the provision of sexual healthcare for oncology patients be improved? A literature review of educational interventions for healthcare professionals

Journal of Cancer Survivorship > Ausgabe 6/2020
L.F. Albers, L.A. Grondhuis Palacios, R.C.M. Pelger, H.W. Elzevier
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11764-020-00898-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Sexual health is an important quality-of-life concern for cancer patients and survivors, but a difficult discussion topic for patients and healthcare professionals. The most important barriers causing healthcare professionals to avoid the topic are lack of education and lack of knowledge. How effective education about sexual health is for oncology healthcare professionals is not clear. The aim of this review is to examine the effectiveness of interventions in improving the provision of sexual healthcare for cancer patients.


A systematic literature review was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines using the following data sources: PubMed, PsychInfo, Embase and Emcare. Quantitative research was included which contained pre-intervention and post-intervention outcomes. The assessment of the studies was conducted independently by two reviewers. A third reviewer was involved if there was no consensus.


Seven studies were included. In total, 572 oncology healthcare professionals participated, including physicians, nurses and allied healthcare professionals. Interventions consisted of 6 face-to-face sessions and one online program. Primary objectives of the studies were the assessment of improvement in knowledge about sexual health, improvement of practice, frequency of discussing sexual health and comfort level and the decline of perceived barriers to discussing sexual health. Studies showed that interventions resulted in improved realization of the objectives.


Although improvement in the knowledge of healthcare professionals was achieved, it was not possible to give an overall recommendation for the development of interventions due to the limited number of studies and heterogeneity of the data.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

Sexual health is an important area of survivorship that is often neglected. Many oncology healthcare professionals lack training and knowledge to provide such care. More evidence-based practices are needed to improve sexual healthcare for cancer survivors.

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