Exercise Medicine Research Institute
Introduction: Although sexual dysfunction is common after prostate cancer, men's decisions to seek help for sexual concerns are not well understood.
Aim: Describe predictors of actual prior help-seeking and intended future medical help-seeking for sexual dysfunction in prostate cancer survivors.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 510 prostate cancer survivors assessed masculine beliefs, attitudes, support/approval from partner/peer networks (subjective norm), and perceived control as predictors of medical help-seeking for sexual concerns. A theory of planned behavior (TPB) perspective was used to examine actual prior and planned future behavior and contributing factors. Statistical analyses included multiple and logistic regressions.
Main Outcome Measures: Intention to see a doctor for sexual advice or help in the next 6 months was measured using the intention subscale adapted from the Attitudes to Seeking Help after Cancer Scale. Prior help-seeking was measured with a dichotomous yes/no scale created for the study.
Results: Men were Mage 71.69 years (SD = 7.71); 7.54 years (SD = 4.68) post-diagnosis; received treatment(s) (58.1% radical prostatectomy; 47.1% radiation therapy; 29.4% hormonal ablation); 81.4% reported severe ED (IIED 0–6) and 18.6% moderate–mild ED (IIED 7–24). Overall, 30% had sought sexual help in the past 6 months, and 24% intended to seek help in the following 6 months. Prior help-seeking was less frequent among men with severe ED. Sexual help-seeking intentions were associated with lower education, prior sexual help-seeking, sexual importance/ priority, emotional self-reliance, positive attitude, and subjective norm (R2 = 0.56).
Conclusion: The TPB has utility as a theoretical framework to understand prostate cancer survivors' sexual help-seeking decisions and may inform development of more effective interventions. Masculine beliefs were highly salient. Men who were more emotionally self-reliant and attributed greater importance to sex formed stronger help-seeking intentions. Subjective norm contributed most strongly to help-seeking intentions suggesting that health professionals/partners/peers have a key role as support mechanisms and components of psycho-sexual interventions.
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