Study Published: Discussion forum as support for young adults diagnosed with cancer


In a study recently published in Cancer Medicine, the authors explore experiences of sexual dysfunction and fertility distress among young adults treated for cancer. The researchers found that the discussion forum provided to the study participants was a valuable support, even though the majority did not actively engage in the discussions.

Person using a laptop.

It is common for young adults, aged 18-39, diagnosed with cancer to experience sexual difficulties and fertility fears. Such issues can also have long-lasting effects, including decreased interest in sex, problems with orgasm, worries about fertility status, and fears of not being able to see potential children grow up. The aim of this study was to investigate whether a forum where participants could discuss sexuality and fertility distress is an effective addition to a larger web-based intervention. Apart from analysing the participation itself, the forum posts were also subjected to thematic analysis.

Out of 135 study participants, 91 visited the discussion forum. 19 participants actively contributed posts to the forum, while others only read the discussions. Based on the content, the researchers identified four themes: fears related to fertility, perceptions of the changed body, missing out on life, and the importance of information and support.

The researchers argue that the discussion forum offered support to those participants who shared their experiences and interacted with others, but it also served as support for those who only read discussions on the forum without contributing with their own posts. Therefore, the authors conclude that similar interventions should provide the same opportunities for patients and study participants to find support in each other.

Read the article ‘The role of a discussion forum within a web-based psychoeducational intervention focusing on sex and fertility—What do young adults communicate’. It is written by Rebecca Skog, Claudia Lampic, Erik Olsson, and Lena Wettergren.

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Last modified: 2023-03-24