Intimacy issue management in the post-surgical experience of breast cancer patients: A sexuality education program

Jennifer L Giordano, University of Pennsylvania


Lumpectomy and mastectomy are the two most commonly preformed methods of surgical treatment for women diagnosed with breast cancer. The inadequacy of available information concerning the educational, informational, and rehabilitative needs and desires of post-surgical, female breast cancer patients, and the belief that educational programming relative to intimacy issue management should be provided as part of currently available comprehensive cancer care led to the “Affirmations” curriculum. The purpose of this study was to design, implement and evaluate a sexuality education program addressing intimacy issues of post-surgical, female breast cancer patients who have undergone lumpectomy and/or mastectomy. It is important because, while intimacy issues of female breast cancer survivors have been identified and discussed in the literature and deemed necessary and vital to the overall well-being and healthy recovery of women, an educational program aimed at the management of such issues had yet to occur. This study provided educational instruction and afforded female breast cancer patients an opportunity to learn about and explore their intimacy potential after cancer treatment. In addition, the study furnishes a curriculum that serves as an archetype for other chronic illness educational programming. Post-lumpectomy and/or post-mastectomy patients have many intimacy informational needs that can be met through participation in the “Affirmations” workshop. Expansion of the curriculum to include and address the needs and recovery dynamics of other forms of cancer is clearly possible within the curricular scope and design. Attention to the management of intimacy issues across a broad range of chronic illnesses is possible through modifications to specific program content. The historical, philosophical, and medical framework has been reviewed and tested, and validates the need and implications of the present study. A specific program grounded in educational theory and practice supplies the health care community with information and resources that are needed and desired by the breast cancer community. Professionals responsible for promoting health care must acknowledge that sexuality is a vital part of human development and that to ignore intimacy issues in the treatment of breast cancer is to adhere to an incomplete standard of practice. Efforts must be made to incorporate intimacy education into the training of oncology care professionals, while welcoming sexuality professionals into the team of specialists who work with recovering cancer patients to better their quality of life.

Subject Area

Health education|Educational psychology|Rehabilitation|Therapy

Recommended Citation

Giordano, Jennifer L, "Intimacy issue management in the post-surgical experience of breast cancer patients: A sexuality education program" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3008897.