Discussing sexual concerns with chronic low back pain patients: barriers and patients’ expectations
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This study aims to explore patient’s concerns when discussing sexual problems caused by chronic low back pain with their healthcare provider. It also aims to identify factors influencing and limiting such communication. A cross-sectional analysis of 100 consenting chronic low back pain sexually active patients was carried out. Patients answered questions on their disease characteristics and sex life. They also mentioned prohibitions of discussing sex with their healthcare provider and their expectations of such discussion. Factors influencing patient’s experiences were analyzed. Median of chronic low back pain duration was 36 (24–72) months and back pain intensity using visual analogical scale (0–100 mm) was 50 ± 10.7 mm. Eighty-one percent of our patients complained of sexual problems, 66 % have never discussed the subject with their healthcare provider. Barriers which prevent discussion on sex include the taboo character of the topic, inappropriateness of visit conditions, and patient disinterest in sex. Ninety-three percent of patients expressed the need of sexual problems’ management in chronic low back pain consulting. Seventy-four percent expected information and advice from their healthcare provider about recommended intercourse positions so as to avoid pain. Thirty-three percent of patients wanted their partner to be involved in the discussion and 81 % preferred talking with a healthcare provider of the same gender. Ability to communicate on the topic was associated with the decrease of patient sexual satisfaction and limited by patient illiteracy. Our study evidences that sex discussion between patient and healthcare provider is restricted by several barriers and that patients expect more involvement from their healthcare provider on the subject. Illiteracy and level of sexual satisfaction seem to be the strongest factors influencing this communication.
KeywordsBarriers Chronic low back pain Communication Expectations Patient Sexuality
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