Why do breast cancer survivors decline a couple-based intimacy enhancement intervention trial?

Jennifer Barsky Reese, Kristen A. Sorice, Natalie M. Oppenheimer, Katherine Clegg Smith, Sharon L. Bober, Elissa T. Bantug, Sharon C. Schwartz, Laura S. Porter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Recruitment challenges hinder behavioral intervention research in cancer survivors. The purpose was to examine the reasons for declining and intervention preferences of study-eligible breast cancer survivors declining a trial of a four-session couple-based Intimacy Enhancement intervention (refusers) and explore whether refusers differed from participants on key characteristics. Partnered, post-treatment breast cancer survivors reporting sexual concerns who were eligible for but declined participation in the intervention trial were approached to complete a standardized 5-min telephone survey assessing reasons for declining and support preferences. Demographic, clinical, and sexual concerns information were collected during screening. Trial participants and refusers were compared on key variables of age, race, hormone therapy use, time since treatment, level of sexual concerns, and recruitment method using t-tests or chi-square tests. Among the 31 women who declined the trial and completed the survey, the most common reasons for declining were time commitment (74%) and partner noninterest (32%). Most (61%) reported that the telephone format played little to no role in their refusal. Eighty-one percent wanted their partners involved in a program addressing sexual concerns. The two most preferred resources were informational websites (45%) and meeting with a professional (26%). Trial participants and refusers did not differ on any key factors examined. Developing intimacy interventions that are very brief, partner-optional, or that use stepped care may bolster uptake. The methods used to examine study-eligible candidates' needs and preferences could be employed in other health populations, thus having broader implications for research design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-440
Number of pages6
JournalTranslational behavioral medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Couples therapy
  • Interventions
  • Sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Why do breast cancer survivors decline a couple-based intimacy enhancement intervention trial?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this