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Soc Work Health Care. 2008;47(4):479-501. doi: 10.1080/00981380802255215.

Oncology social workers' perceptions of barriers to discussing fertility preservation with cancer patients.

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  • 1Health Outcomes and Behavior, Moffitt Cancer Center, USA.


Infertility is a common result of cancer treatment; however, opportunities exist that allow patients to preserve their fertility prior to treatment. Evidence suggests health care providers, including social workers, do not consistently discuss this topic with patients. This study used a qualitative, cross-sectional design using a focus group and in-depth interviews to explore knowledge, attitudes, barriers, and behaviors related to social workers' discussion of fertility preservation with cancer patients. Factors that influence the discussion of fertility preservation among social workers include: (1) Knowledge (e.g., Fertility Preservation Resources); (2) Attitudes (e.g., Cost, Perceived Role, Comfort Level, Fertility Preservation Discussion Difficulty/Priority); (3) Barriers (e.g., Cost, Urgency to start Treatment/Time, Patient Factors, Physician Attitudes/Beliefs); (4) Behaviors; and (5) Suggestions. Results show social workers are not typically discussing fertility preservation methods with patients; however, they may be in an ideal position to facilitate the conversation between the physician and the patient. There is a strong need to develop educational interventions aimed at oncology social workers, to help facilitate discussions with patients.

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