An Evaluation of an Internet-based, Psychosexual Intervention for Couples Following Treatment for Breast Cancer: A Phase I Trial
Many couples experience sexual problems following breast cancer treatment, and difficulties
with intimacy and sexuality tend to extend past the 1 year post-treatment point. Given that
resources available for couples who experience sexual distress after breast cancer are
virtually non-existent, there is a need to develop and empirically evaluate psychosexual
interventions for breast cancer patients and their partners.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the feasibility, process, and outcomes of an
online, couples-based intervention designed to address sexual problems encountered by many
couples facing breast cancer. The intervention will take place in the form of six E-therapy
sessions delivered via secure, encrypted videoconferencing software commonly used by health
care providers practicing telemedicine. Each session will be supplemented by
psychoeducational materials (i.e. reading and/or video) available through a privately
accessed homepage for the study.
Twenty-five couples will participate in the intervention, and a repeated measures analysis
of covariance will be undertaken to assess the treatment effect over time. In addition to
completing standardized questionnaires, couples will participate in pre- and post-treatment
interviews, which will be analyzed thematically in order to improve the intervention and its
The proposed project builds upon existing research pertaining to the sexual health
implications of female cancer survivorship, and will fill a gap both in the literature and
support available to breast cancer survivors experiencing sexual distress. Given that
sexual distress is such a crucial concern for women with breast cancer, and that the
majority of couples experiencing sexual difficulties may not receive adequate support in
this regard, the goal of the proposed project will be the creation of an accessible,
cost-effective, empirically validated tool that could help improve the quality of life of
couples affected by breast cancer.
Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment, Masking: Open Label, Primary Purpose: Supportive Care
Change in Sexual Function Questionnaire for Men and Women (SFQ-W, SFW-M) scores from pre (0 weeks) to post-treatment (6 weeks), and 3 month follow-up
The SFQ assesses couples' sexual satisfaction and functioning. The SFQ will be used to assess change in couples' level of sexual functioning.
pre-treatment (0 weeks), immediate post-treatment (6 weeks), and 3 month follow-up
Karen Fergus, PhD
Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre
Canada: Health Canada