Innovations in the Treatment of Sexual Health Post Prostate Cancer Treatment (INTROSPPECT)

Official title: Innovations in the treatment of sexual dysfunction and couple intimacy after prostate cancer: A randomized trial of mindfulness versus cognitive behavioural therapy


Today, advances in the detection and treatment of prostate cancer mean that it is now considered a chronic illness, instead of a fatal diagnosis; however, prostate cancer survivors go on to experience significant – and often life-long side effects of these treatments. Among the most impactful side effects of prostate cancer treatment are sexual difficulties, which impact up to 90% of men and can greatly impact their quality of life. Although medical interventions exist to address sexual dysfunction, adherence rates are exceedingly low, and there are little to no psychosocial supports that address intimacy and sexual concerns in men and their partners after prostate cancer treatment. Both mindfulness-based therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) have shown promise in lending support to prostate cancer survivors and their partners; both are effective in improving mood, reducing stress, and more specifically enhancing sexual health in women. Preliminary data from our pilot study IMMPACT has found that mindfulness may be effective and applicable in couples after prostate cancer treatment, as well.

The INTROSPPECT study is a randomized clinical trial comparing both mindfulness and CBT to a control group which receives no treatment. Researchers on this project are hoping that the results will translate into innovative treatment protocols that directly benefit men and their partners who have experienced prostate cancer by addressing psychosocial needs around intimacy, sexuality, and quality of life. This study is a collaboration between the UBC Sexual Health Lab and the Vancouver Prostate Centre, with funding from the Movember Discovery Grant/Prostate Cancer Canada.

Study details:

Couples will be randomly assigned to either mindfulness or CBT groups.  Those assigned to either group are invited to attend 2-hour-long weekly group sessions with 1-5 other couples for 4 consecutive weeks. Treatment groups involve training in the skills of either mindfulness or CBT, and some education about healthy sexuality. During those 4 weeks, there is daily homework involving completion of handouts and practicing guided mindfulness exercises or CBT tools. Some exercises are done alone, and some as a couple. Both members of the couple will also complete 3 questionnaires; one at baseline, at 6 weeks, and again at 6 months’ follow-up.  The questionnaires take approximately 20-30 minutes and are completed online.

Recruitment for this project is now closed.