There is an increasing number of long-term survivors of cervical and endometrial cancer for whom quality of life is of major importance. We interviewed 20 women (aged 19-64) to explore the dynamics and components of post-treatment sexual adjustment and its impact on quality of life. Stratification by treatment received (surgery alone, surgery plus external-beam radiation, surgery plus brachytherapy, and surgery plus external-beam radiation and brachytherapy) and time since treatment (immediately post treatment, during the next 2 years and thereafter) was undertaken, to ensure representation of all relevant experiences and views, and to allow time for any long-term side effects to appear. The NUD*IST software (Non-numerical Unstructured Data by Indexing, Searching and Theorising) was used to assist with the coding of audio-taped, transcribed interviews and to search for themes and segments. While the data supported findings reported in the literature, important new themes emerged in the course of the qualitative analysis. These included: (a). issues related to being 'feminine', (b). the role of intimacy in post-treatment adjustment and (c). the importance of communication between health professionals, patients and partners. A model is presented that integrates these issues and highlights the need for effective interventions to improve post-treatment outcomes. The provision of information, support and modification of rehabilitation devices is suggested.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.