Friday, July 23, 2004
This presentation is part of : Women's Health
Sexual Adjustment to Breast Cancer in Unmarried Women
Wendy C. Budin, RN, BC, PhD, College of Nursing, College of Nursing, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ, USA
Learning Objective #1: Describe the perceived impact of diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer on the sexual aspects of life among unmarried women during the late postoperative recovery phase
Learning Objective #2: Discuss implication for nurses and other health care professionals to understand and address sexual adjustment problems in unmarried women with breast cancer

Problem: Breast cancer is a significant health problem among women. These women often journey through a maze of treatment alternatives with a wide array of psychosocial implications. Although there is evidence that women with supportive husbands adjust reasonably well, little is known about the impact of breast cancer among unmarried women. Although unmarried women may have special adjustment needs, they have not been studied as a group in a systematic way. The purpose of this study is to describe the impact of breast cancer on sexual aspects of life among unmarried women. Research Questions:(1) How do unmarried women describe the impact of breast cancer on the sexual aspects of their lives? (2) Is there a relationship between symptom distress and sexual adjustment to breast cancer? (3) Are demographic and medical variables associated with sexual adjustment? Methods: Data were collected from 101 unmarried women using a mail survey. Participants completed The Psychosocial Adjustment to Illness Scale (PAIS), the Symptom Distress Scale (SDS); and a demographic and medical data form. Descriptive statistics, correlations, and ANOVA were used. Findings: Of the 101 unmarried women in the sample, only 58 women completed the sexual adjustment items. These women experienced low to moderate levels of sexual adjustment problems (M = 5.9, SD = 6.1; scale 0-18). 39% reported marked loss or no sexual interest; 32% reported a marked decrease or no sexual activity; 75% reported a marked decrease or no sexual pleasure; and 11.9% reported that their illness caused constant sexual performance problems or total inability to perform sexually. Symptom distress was significantly related to sexual adjustment problems(r = .536, p = 000). No other demographic or medical variable were associated with sexual adjustment. Implications: This information may help nurses design interventions to address sexual adjustment needs of unmarried women with breast cancer.

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