The role of space in obstructing clinical sexual health education: A qualitative study on breast cancer patients' perspectives on barriers to expressing sexual concerns.


Gong N(1), Zhang Y(2), Suo R(3), Dong W(4), Zou W(2), Zhang M(2).
Author information:
(1)School of Nursing, Jinan University, Guangzhou, China.
(2)School of Nursing, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.
(3)The fifth affiliated hospital Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai, China.
(4)School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


OBJECTIVE: Breast cancer patients report hoping to receive professional medical advice on sexual health and sexuality, but only few of them actively seek help from medical professionals. This study aims to gain clear understanding about barriers to patients' sexual health education seeking from the patient perspective. METHODS: A qualitative study using in-depth interviews was conducted in an urban hospital in Guangdong Province. China. 20 female breast cancer patients were selected and interviewed. The interview was recorded and transcribed verbatim. Content analysis was used for the data analysis. RESULTS: Four main barriers participants experienced to expressing sexual health education need to medical personnel included: (1) Avoiding discussion of sexuality due to the inappropriate space. (2) Avoiding sexual activity due to the disease treatment. (3) Avoiding sexual activity due to the body related distress. (4) Sexuality as a metaphor. CONCLUSIONS: It is found that breast cancer patients' expression about sexuality was constrained by the hospital, disease, body space and the cultural logic behind the three spaces. Clinical staff should provide an appropriate space for discussing sexual concerns, increase sexual health knowledge, comprehensively evaluate patients' condition and develop a culturally adaptable sexual health education.