Overview

Project status: In progress

Cancer Australia

Women with gynaecological cancer can experience significant sexual dysfunction, yet information and support tailored for this area is often neglected or mistimed.

Cancer Australia through the National Centre for Gynaecological Cancers has commissioned a project to develop, pilot and evaluate an evidence based, interactive psychosexual training module for health professionals. This web based module and supporting resources will enable health professionals to better address the psychosexual care of women affected by gynaecological cancer and their partners, and thus improve quality of life.


Read details

Grantor
Australian Government
Research leader
External collaborators
  • Ms Kathryn Nattress, The University of Sydney
  • Dr Ilona Juraskova, The University of Sydney
  • Ms Kim Hobbs, Westmead Hospital
  • Dr Kendra Sundquist, Cancer Council, NSW
Organisational unit
Lead unit Faculty of Health Other units
Research areas

Contact

Lynda Carnew

l.carnew@qut.edu.au

(07)3138 0451

 

Details

Cancer Australia through the National Centre for Gynaecological Cancers has commissioned a project to develop, pilot and evaluate an evidence based, interactive psychosexual training module for health professionals. This web based module and supporting resources will enable health professionals to better address the psychosexual care of women affected by gynaecological cancer and their partners, and thus improve quality of life.

Project objectives

  1. Develop the skills of primary, secondary and tertiary health professionals in providing effective psychosexual care to women and their partners affected by gynaecological cancer; and
  2. Improve quality of life for women who have been affected by a gynaecological cancer and their partners.

Project deliverables

This project has developed a module that addresses the psychosexual health needs of women who have been treated for ovarian, endometrial, cervical, vulval cancers and other gynaecological cancers.

Sexuality and psychosexual issues

Sexuality is not only about physical intimacy, but includes a person's behaviours, desires and attitudes about themselves and how they express themselves to others. Sexuality can be expressed in many ways, from the clothes someone wears, the way they talk or the way they move, to the way someone expresses themself during physical intimacy.

Psychosexual issues are when someone has trouble with their sexuality. It can be a physical, mental or psychological concern. Sometimes it can be a minor concern which is easily overcome, while other times it can be more serious. Depending on the severity, the level and type of intervention required can vary.

Psychosexual issues experienced by women with gynaecological cancer

Women with gynaecological cancers experience physical and mental changes as a result of treatment. The mental or psychosexual issues that can be experienced by women with gynaecological cancers include:

  • Changes to body image or how a woman sees herself and how she thinks others see her;
  • Loss of femininity as a result of treatment removing reproductive organs or causing menopause in pre-menopausal women;
  • Feeling a loss of wholeness, which is a result of reproductive organs being removed;
  • Isolation from others;
  • Fear of rejection from their partner;
  • Fear that sexual activity will result in pain or will cause the cancer to reappear;
  • A loss of pleasure and / or interest in intimacy with their partner.
  • Guilt; and
  • Heightened negative emotions.

Project stages

A four stage process will be used to develop the comprehensive evidence based training module. The details for each stage are outlined below. The progress update arrow above will inform which stage the project is at.

Stage 1: Scoping

An extensive review of the literature will be undertaken at this stage. It will focus on psychosexual issues and the care of women affected by a gynaecological cancer and their partners.

A review of existing sexual health training and education materials for oncology health professionals will also be undertaken at this stage.

Stage 2: Development of module and supporting material

Activities will include the development or adaptation of existing sexual health modules.

The module will be presented in an interactive online format and supported by print ready resources for both health professionals and women affected by a gynaecological cancer and their partners.

Stage 3: Pilot and evaluation

The module and supporting resources will be piloted and evaluated across a diverse range of settings and modified accordingly.

Further information on the Pilot and Evaluation process can be found in the Comments and Feedback Section.

Stage 4: Moving forward

In the final stage, recommendations for further research and professional development needs identified throughout the course of this project will be made.

Training module contents

Visit the new Psychosexual Care resources

These interactive training modules provide health professionals with learning materials, including activities, quizzes and video vignettes, all based around the experiences of women treated for gynaecological cancers.  Review the framework, log on to use the notebook (it's free!) and work through the modules that are relevant to you.  Keep your eye on the site as we will be continuing to release supporting resources including workshop packages, power point presentations and referral tools.  We will also continue to update you as we work through the accreditation process for CPD points for this resource.

The module will includes the following topics:

  • Understanding sexuality
  • Understanding the experience of the psychosexual effect of gynaecological cancer
  • Enquiring about and responding to the psychosexual sequalae of gynaecological cancer
  • Understanding psychosexual sequelae: pathophysiological, psychosocial and cultural aspects.
  • Undertaking a comprehensive sexual health assessment.
  • Treatment.

Supporting Resources

Supporting resources will be available in both an electronic and print ready format for primary, secondary and tertiary health professionals. The resources will include:

  • Psychosexual assessment and referral tools; and
  • A psychosexual support and information resource that health professionals can give to patients to support the counselling process.

Resource development

The training module and supporting materials will be evidence based and developed according to rigorous methods. All materials will be subject to peer review.

Women affected by gynaecological cancers, clinical experts and academic experts will be involved in the Project Team and Project Working Group. This will allow insight and experience to be drawn on from multiple disciplines.

Delivery of the module to health professionals

To ensure wide spread use of the module amongst health professionals, the module will be developed to ensure:

  1. Flexible delivery - Developed in both electronic and print ready format, the module will allow flexibility in terms of time, place and mode of delivery.
  2. Tailoring to your needs - The content and structure of the module will allow all levels and disciplines of health professionals to tailor the modules to their needs by using the resource in whole or in part depending on the learning context.
  3. Evidence based development - The training module and supporting resources will be based on best available evidence both from a learning and content perspective.

Project working group

The Project Working Group is established from multidisciplinary experts who act as close partners and interested parties who provide guidance in the area of psychosexual care to women who have been affected by gynaecological cancer and their partners.

The Project Working Group includes nominees from the following organisations: