Partner presence in clinical conversations about sexual health: Breast cancer survivors’, partners’, and providers’ perspectives of triadic interactions

Mollie Rose Canzona, Carla L. Fisher, David S. Garcia, Thrandia Dong, Christy J.W. Ledford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Breast cancer survivors’ (BCSs’) sexual health (SH) clinical conversations are rarely studied from a dyadic perspective let alone from a triadic perspective. Using a triadic approach, we evaluated BCSs’ comfort discussing SH with partners present and identified factors that can contribute to their comfort level. Design: Qualitative approach using in-depth interviews. Participants: 93 BCSs, partners, and providers involved in BCS care. Methods: In-depth interviews with BCSs, partners, and providers explored triadic perspectives to understand factors informing BCSs’ comfort level. Thematic analysis was used to analyze data. Findings: Four themes characterize potential benefits of partner presence: 1) partner facilitates information exchange, 2) partner realizes BCS’s SH concerns are “a real thing,” 3) partner better understands SH challenges, and 4) partner presence encourages relational communication about SH. Five themes illustrate potential complications of partner presence: 1) partner feels/becomes embarrassed, 2) partner is/becomes defensive, 3) partner presence constrains BCS’s agency in clinical conversations, 4) partner presence threatens partner’s view of BCS as a sexual being, and 5) partner presence increases partner burden. Implications for Psychosocial Oncology: Providers should (1) initiate conversations about BCS comfort with partner presence, (2) be aware of the interaction between BCS primary and secondary goals, (3) consider how BCS/partner goal conflicts obstruct BCS agency and sexual/relational health, and (4) offer opportunities to clarify goals and expectations, and coordinate therapeutic options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Psychosocial Oncology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Breast cancer
  • companion
  • partner
  • patient-provider communication
  • sexual health
  • survivor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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