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Implementation of individually tailored treatment plans in a group-based intervention for women with mixed vulvo-vaginal and sexual health concerns following cancer treatment: A feasibility study

Published:November 11, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejon.2022.102236

      Highlights

      • Vulvo-vaginal and sexual health changes are common after cancer treatment.
      • The psychosocial implications of vaginal and sexual health changes are profound.
      • Patients need more information/support about sexual changes after cancer treatment.
      • Group-based interventions are economically efficient and provide social support.
      • Individually tailored treatment plans can be implemented in a group-based setting.

      Abstract

      Purpose

      This study evaluated a professionally-led, group-based vulvo-vaginal and sexual health (VSH) workshop for women diagnosed with cancer. The study goals were to: (1) implement and assess a novel group intervention for diverse VSH concerns; (2) explore post-workshop changes in symptom bother, motivation to use VSH treatments, and frequency of VSH treatment use; (3) examine post-workshop changes in sexual well-being.

      Methods

      A group-based educational workshop to address a variety of VSH concerns was developed and implemented. During the workshop, participants created an individualized treatment plan by selecting from various VSH treatment options presented. Treatment plan follow-ups were administered online at one-, two-, and three-months post-workshop. At baseline and three-month follow-up, participants completed online questionnaires to assess self-reported vulvo-vaginal symptoms, sexual function, sexual distress, and use of VSH strategies.

      Results

      195 participants (age 20–81) attended workshops over a 2.5-year period. Individualized treatment plans were effectively completed by most participants (92%). Preliminary results show decreases in bother severity associated with VSH concerns post-workshop, stabilizing after 2 months. At three-month follow-up, participants reported increased use of VSH treatment strategies. Sexual satisfaction, sexual distress, and emotional impact of vulvovaginal symptoms also improved.

      Conclusions

      Workshop attendance was associated with increased uptake of VSH treatment strategies and improvements in several parameters of sexual well-being. Findings indicate that individualized treatment plans can be implemented effectively in a group setting and that a one-time, group-based educational workshop can meaningfully impact VSH-related behavior change, reduce vulvo-vaginal symptom bother and promote sexual well-being in patients with diverse VSH concerns.

      Keywords

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