Clinical Interviewing Techniques and Sexuality Questionnaires for Male and Female Cancer Patients


Corresponding Author: Stanley E. Althof, PhD, Center for Marital and Sexual Health of South Florida, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, 1515 N. Flagler Drive, Suite 540, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, USA. Tel: 561-822-5454; Fax: 561-822-5458; E-mail:



Sexuality is an important aspect of quality of life; however, cancer and its treatments may impact the sexual function of men and women. Both cancer survivors and healthcare providers have barriers to addressing sexual problems in the clinical encounter.


To summarize the key points from the two authors' oral presentations at the Cancer Survivorship and Sexual Health Symposium, International Society for Sexual Medicine-Sexual Medicine Society of North America (ISSM-SMSNA) Joint Meeting, Washington, DC, June 2011.


To describe patient-centered communication skills that can improve communication without excessively increasing the length of the visit. To review the validated sexuality measures that can assist clinicians in gathering sexual health information and assessing the response to therapeutic interventions for sexual problems.

Main Outcome Measures

Sexual health interviewing skills including screening, assessment, open-ended questions, empathic delineation, and counseling are discussed. Key sexuality scales including the rationale for their use, psychometric properties, and patient-reported outcomes are summarized.


Optimal approaches to the spectrum of communication challenges in the male and female sexual health encounter are exemplified. Advantages and limitations of the array of measures, including structured interviews, self-administered questionnaires, daily diaries, and event logs, are explained.


Practitioners can improve their detection and management of sexual concerns in cancer survivors by employing efficient patient-centered communication skills in conjunction with validated sexuality scales.