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Keywords:

  • sexuality;
  • menopause;
  • fertility;
  • breast neoplasms;
  • peer counseling;
  • African American

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

African American breast cancer survivors may be at high risk for reproductive health problems, including menopause symptoms, sexual dysfunction, and distress about cancer-related infertility. The authors partnered with Sisters Network Inc. to create the Sisters Peer Counseling in Reproductive Issues After Treatment (SPIRIT) program, a culturally sensitive intervention program that combined a written workbook and peer counseling.

METHODS:

Three hundred women were randomized to receive either the workbook plus 3 in-person sessions with a trained peer counselor or the workbook plus ≤30 minutes of telephone counseling to be initiated by the participant. Questionnaires at baseline, post-treatment, and at 6-month and 12-month follow-up assessed emotional distress, sexual function, relationship satisfaction, spirituality, menopause symptoms, and knowledge. Satisfaction with the program and the use of medical care also were assessed.

RESULTS:

Both groups of women improved significantly in knowledge, decreased in distress, and had decreased hot flashes. Sexually active women had improved sexual function at 6-month follow-up but not at 1 year. However, peer counseling had little incremental benefit over the telephone counseling.

CONCLUSIONS:

The SPIRIT program was rated very useful by 66% of women. Outcomes justify continued use of the workbook and further research to optimize the impact of peer counseling. Cancer 2011;. © 2011 American Cancer Society.