The effect of a sexual life reframing program on marital intimacy, body image, and sexual function among breast cancer survivors

Cancer Nurs. 2011 Mar-Apr;34(2):142-9. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181f1ab7a.


Background: Despite increasing awareness related to sexual health for breast cancer survivors, health care providers are passive in addressing their sexual issues.

Objective: The aims were to develop and investigate the effect of a sexual life reframing program on marital intimacy, body image, and sexual function (interest, dysfunction, and satisfaction) among breast cancer survivors.

Methods: Breast cancer survivors participated in this quasi-experimental study. The sexual life reframing program focused on the physical, psychological, and relational aspects of sexual health elements, and it consisted of 6 weekly 2-hour sessions.

Results: The participants reported poor body image and sexual function. There were no statistically significant differences in marital intimacy, body image, sexual interest, and sexual dysfunction following the program, although all the variables in the intervention group were improved. The sexual life reframing program was effective in increasing sexual satisfaction among breast cancer survivors.

Conclusion: This study suggests that the quality of sexual life in breast cancer survivors could be improved with the sexual life reframing program provided as part of supportive group care. This program may be more effective if targeted at couples rather than survivors only and if delivered earlier and for a longer period.

Implications for practice: The sexual life reframing program offers an opportunity to facilitate small-group dynamics that lay the ground for further contacts leading to earlier recognition of sexual problems and active involvement for sexual health improvement for breast cancer survivors and nurses. It could be utilized for survivor education or support groups to increase sexual satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Marriage / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Republic of Korea
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / etiology
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / rehabilitation
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / etiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / rehabilitation
  • Sexuality / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology