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Thyroid cancer has a small impact on patient-partner relationships and their frequency of sexual activity


Büel-Drabe, Natalie; Steinert, Hans; Moergeli, Hanspeter; Weidt, Steffi; Seiler, Annina; Jenewein, Josef (2017). Thyroid cancer has a small impact on patient-partner relationships and their frequency of sexual activity. Palliative & Supportive Care:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This cross-sectional survey examined changes in perceived relationships and sexual activity in a sample of thyroid cancer patients and their partners, taking into account sociodemographic and disease-related variables, as well as such outcome measures as anxiety, depression, fatigue, and quality of life (QoL).
METHOD: A total of 38 patients with thyroid cancer who were being treated at the department of nuclear medicine in Zürich or Lucerne over the preceding seven years, as well as their partners, completed questionnaires about the quality of their relationships (RQ), about perceptions of changes in their relationships, and about their frequency of sexual activity. They also filled out prevalidated questionnaires related to anxiety, depression, fatigue, and QoL.
RESULTS: Some 17 patients (44.7%) and 16 partners (42.1 %) reported that the cancer diagnosis had changed their relationships. Of these, 10 (26.3%) patients and 9 (23.7%) partners reported positive changes only, while 7 patients (18.4%) and 7 partners (18.4%) reported mixed or negative changes. A perceived mixed/negative relationship change was associated with increased depression and lower RQ in patients and partners, as well as with increased anxiety in patients. While the frequency of sexual activity only changed in roughly half of patients and partners (16 patients [42.1%] and 20 partners [52.6%]), increased sexual activity was associated with lower physical QoL scores and a higher depression score than in counterparts who reported no change.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Compared to other cancer sites, in our sample thyroid cancer had a relatively small impact on patient-partner relationships and levels of intimacy. We found that screening patients and their partners with a simple question-"Did the diagnosis of cancer change your relationship?"-can lead to early detection of couples who are potentially at risk for perceived negative relationship changes and can facilitate timely psychosocial referral for couple's therapy.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This cross-sectional survey examined changes in perceived relationships and sexual activity in a sample of thyroid cancer patients and their partners, taking into account sociodemographic and disease-related variables, as well as such outcome measures as anxiety, depression, fatigue, and quality of life (QoL).
METHOD: A total of 38 patients with thyroid cancer who were being treated at the department of nuclear medicine in Zürich or Lucerne over the preceding seven years, as well as their partners, completed questionnaires about the quality of their relationships (RQ), about perceptions of changes in their relationships, and about their frequency of sexual activity. They also filled out prevalidated questionnaires related to anxiety, depression, fatigue, and QoL.
RESULTS: Some 17 patients (44.7%) and 16 partners (42.1 %) reported that the cancer diagnosis had changed their relationships. Of these, 10 (26.3%) patients and 9 (23.7%) partners reported positive changes only, while 7 patients (18.4%) and 7 partners (18.4%) reported mixed or negative changes. A perceived mixed/negative relationship change was associated with increased depression and lower RQ in patients and partners, as well as with increased anxiety in patients. While the frequency of sexual activity only changed in roughly half of patients and partners (16 patients [42.1%] and 20 partners [52.6%]), increased sexual activity was associated with lower physical QoL scores and a higher depression score than in counterparts who reported no change.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Compared to other cancer sites, in our sample thyroid cancer had a relatively small impact on patient-partner relationships and levels of intimacy. We found that screening patients and their partners with a simple question-"Did the diagnosis of cancer change your relationship?"-can lead to early detection of couples who are potentially at risk for perceived negative relationship changes and can facilitate timely psychosocial referral for couple's therapy.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Nuclear Medicine
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:31 May 2017
Deposited On:21 Jun 2017 08:56
Last Modified:21 Jun 2017 09:00
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:1478-9515
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/S1478951517000384
PubMed ID:28560941

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