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Cancer J. 2009 Jan-Feb;15(1):48-56. doi: 10.1097/PPO.0b013e31819585df.

A review of couple-based interventions for enhancing women's sexual adjustment and body image after cancer.

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School of Psychology, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia.


Despite the growing interest in couple-based interventions for women with cancer, only few of these interventions primarily focus on improving women's sexual and body image. A review of studies that investigated the impact of an intervention on women's sexual adjustment and/or body image was conducted. Twelve studies met inclusion criteria for this review: 8 randomized control trials, 2 pilot randomized control trials, and 2 quasi-experimental designs. Our analysis revealed that interventions that produce stronger effects tend to be couple-focused and include treatment components that (1) educate both partners about the woman's diagnosis and treatments, (2) promote couples' mutual coping and support processes, and (3) include specific sexual therapy techniques to address sexual and body image concerns. Future intervention research should incorporate randomized, controlled clinical trial designs conducted according to the revised CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials); include measures of body image, sexual satisfaction, and sexual dysfunction; have adequate statistical power; and include more diverse samples, especially women who are younger or from minority or less-educated groups.

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