Sexual dysfunction is the most common and most distressing consequence of prostate cancer (PCa) treatment and has been shown to directly affect the sexual function and quality of life of survivors' partners. There are currently no established therapies to treat the emotional and psychological burden that sexual issues impose on the couple after PCa.
Our study examined the impact of 2 therapies-cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness therapy-on sexual, relational, and psychological outcomes of PCa survivor and partner couples.
PCa survivors (n = 68) who self-reported current sexual problems after PCa treatments and their partners were randomized to 4 consecutive weeks of couples' mindfulness therapy, couples' CBT, or no treatment (control).
Couples' sexual distress, survivors' sexual satisfaction, and couples' relationship satisfaction, quality of life, psychological symptoms (anxiety and depression), and trait mindfulness were measured at baseline, 6 weeks after treatment, and 6 months after treatment.
Sexual distress and sexual satisfaction were significantly improved 6 weeks after the CBT and mindfulness interventions as compared with the control group, but only sexual distress remained significantly improved at 6 months. Relationship satisfaction decreased and more so for partners than survivors. There were increases in domains of quality of life for survivors vs their partners 6 months after treatments and an overall increase in general quality of life for couples 6 weeks after mindfulness. There were no significant changes in psychological symptoms and trait mindfulness. Qualitative analysis showed that the mindfulness intervention led to greater personal impact on couple intimacy after the study had ended.
CBT and mindfulness can be effective treatments for helping couples adapt to and cope with changes to their sexual function after PCa treatments and could help improve the most common concern for PCa survivors-that is, couples' sexual intimacy-after cancer, if added to routine clinical care.
We used established standardized treatment manuals and highly sensitive statistical methodology and accounted for covariable factors and moderators of primary outcomes. Due to difficulty in recruitment, we had a smaller control group than treatment, reducing our power to detect between-group differences. Our sample was mostly White, heterosexual, and affluent, thereby limiting the generalizability.
This is the first randomized clinical trial to test and demonstrate benefits among PCa survivors and partners' sexual outcomes after CBT and mindfulness as compared with a nontreatment control group.
The journal of sexual medicine. 2023 Jan 23 [Epub ahead of print]
Bibiana M Kemerer, Bozena Zdaniuk, Celestia S Higano, Jennifer A Bossio, Raysa Camara Bicalho Santos, Ryan Flannigan, Lori A Brotto
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 1M9, Canada., Prostate Cancer Supportive Care Program, Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver, BC, V5Z 1M9, Canada., Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 2V7, Canada.