- Internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy for sexual dysfunctions in women treated for breast cancer: design of a multicenter, randomized controlled trial
- BMC Cancer
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- Number of pages
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- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Background: Sexual dysfunction is a prevalent, long-term complication of breast cancer and its treatment and can be treated effectively with face-to-face sexual counselling. However, relatively few women actually opt for face-to-face sex therapy, with many women indicating that it is too confronting. Internet-based interventions might be a less threatening and more acceptable approach, because of the convenience, accessibility and privacy it provides. Recent studies have demonstrated the efficacy of internet-based programs for improving sexual functioning in the general population. The objective of the current study is to investigate the efficacy of an internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program in alleviating problems with sexuality and intimacy in women who have been treated for breast cancer.
Methods/design: In a multicenter, randomized controlled trial we are evaluating the efficacy of an internet-based CBT program in reducing problems with sexuality and intimacy in breast cancer survivors. Secondary outcomes include body image, marital functioning, psychological distress, menopausal symptoms, and health-related quality of life. We will recruit 160 breast cancer survivors (aged 18-65 years) with a formal DSM-IV diagnosis of sexual dysfunction from general and academic hospitals in the Netherlands. Women are randomized to either an intervention or waiting-list control group. Self-report questionnaires are completed by the intervention group at baseline (T0), ten weeks after start of therapy (T1), post-treatment (T2), 3 months post-treatment (T3), and 9 months post-treatment (T4). The control group completes questionnaires at T0, T1 and T2.
Discussion: There is a need for accessible and effective interventions for the treatment of sexual dysfunctions in breast cancer survivors. This study will provide evidence about the efficacy of an internet-based approach to delivering a CBT intervention targeted specifically at these sexual health issues. If proven to be effective, internet-based CBT for problems with sexuality and intimacy will be a welcome addition to the care offered to breast cancer survivors. Hopefully this therapy will lower the barrier to seeking help for these problems, resulting in improved quality of life after breast cancer.
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