How to deal with female cancer in a society where emotions are not easily discussed: a Japanese experience

How to deal with female cancer in a society where emotions are not easily discussed: a Japanese experience

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Surveys with Japanese surgeons and nurses showed that, although the majority recognized the importance of addressing patients’ sexuality related issues, they did not know where to start, and reported various concerns such as fear of upsetting patients by raising sexual issues and lack of confidence because they are not “a sexual counseling specialist”. Based on the results of these studies, we started two practical interventions for patients and healthcare providers in Japan. One is the one-day “Female Cancer and Sexuality” workshop for healthcare providers.

The education program includes lectures on the female sexual response, treatment induced sexual complications, a step by step intervention model for healthcare professionals (based on the PLISSIT model), role playing exercises, and a group discussion on how to prepare a safe environment to talk about sexual issues in clinical settings and to promote awareness among hospital staff. The other example is the publication of a free brochure for women with breast cancer regarding sexuality and partnership issues. This brochure was created based on a needs assessment survey with patients. The clinical importance of improving healthcare providers’ awareness on patients’ sexual issues will be discussed based on the feedback of workshop participants and brochure users.

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