Adapting, testing and evaluating an eLearning resource for healthcare professionals to enhance the provision of sexual support with patients and their partners in cancer care

  • Sharon Bingham

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Cancer and treatment can cause devastating and enduring changes to the experience of sexuality. While healthcare professionals (HPs) should initiate sexual support for patients and partners, this does not happen routinely. Key barriers for HPs, are a lack of knowledge and training opportunities. To address the gap, a prostate-specific eLearning resource for HPs was adapted, creating the Maximising Sexual Wellbeing: Cancer Care eLearning resource (MSW: CC). This thesis reports on adaption, optimisation and evaluation of MSW: CC.

Intervention development was guided by the Person Based Approach (PBA), using mixed methods, across three phases. Phase 1 - intervention planning, included an extensive literature review and guiding principles to inform the adaptation of the prostate-specific eLearning resource to one for use across cancer care (MSW: CC). During Phase 2- intervention optimisation, MSW: CC prototype was reviewed by an expert group, iteratively tested and refined using 18 think-aloud (TA) interviews with HPs. Phase 3- intervention evaluation involved pre-test and post-test surveys (n=87) to determine the impact of MSW: CC on HPs’ sexual attitudes and beliefs related to providing sexual support in cancer care. This evaluation phase also determined HP’s views on acceptability and usability.

TA interviews highlighted necessary modifications, which centred around navigation issues. Thematic analysis identified two themes, “sexual support, it is the HP role but there is room for improvement” and “MSW: CC eLearning resource meets our needs.” The evaluation demonstrated HPs acceptability and usability of the resource. Statistically significant changes in pre-test to post-test survey scores demonstrated capability of the MSW: CC to reduce HPs’ attitudinal barriers related to the provision of sexual support in cancer care.

The MSW: CC has been successfully adapted, displaying potential to reduce HPs’ attitudinal barriers to the provision of sexual support. This resource has potential to assist in implementation of global healthcare guidelines advocating for HP-led sexual support across cancer care.
Date of AwardFeb 2022
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsDepartment for the Economy
SupervisorLynn Dunwoody (Supervisor), Cherith Semple (Supervisor), Carrie Flannagan (Supervisor) & Eilis Mc Caughan (Supervisor)


  • Cancer
  • Oncology
  • Sexual wellbeing
  • Person based approach
  • e-learning
  • Intervention development
  • Mixed methods

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