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Table 3 Q-set statements and factor array

From: Constructions of sex and intimacy after cancer: Q methodology study of people with cancer, their partners, and health professionals

  Factor
Item   1 2 3
1 People with cancer are sexually unattractive −3 −3 −3
2 People with cancer don’t have any sexual desires −3 −3 0
3 Partners of people with cancer can lose their interest in sex +2 0 +1
4 People with cancer do not have the energy for sex +1 −1 +2
5 People with cancer should focus on recovery and survival rather than on their sexual relationship −2 0 +2
6 The sexual relationship is the last thing on a couple’s mind when one of them has cancer −1 −1 +2
7 Cancer doesn’t remove the sense of duty that couples share in their sexual relationship +1 +1 −1
8 Fear of hurting someone with cancer during sex stops partners from having a sexual relationship with them +2 0 +1
9 A person would feel disgusted with themselves for having sex with a person with cancer −2 −4 −3
10 Once someone is seen as a “patient”, they can’t be seen as a sexual partner −3 −4 −3
11 There isn’t anything sexy about caring for someone with cancer −1 −1 +1
12 People should always make time for sex even if they have cancer −1 +2 −1
13 Intimacy means more than just sex +5 +4 +5
14 Cancer can bring couples closer in their intimate relationship +2 +3 +3
15 Just being held may be all that the person with cancer wants +4 +3 +5
16 Cancer results in greater affection between partners 0 +2 +1
17 When a person is diagnosed with cancer, sex becomes taboo 0 −5 −3
18 Partners of people with cancer would feel guilty if they initiate sex +1 −3 +2
19 Partners of people with cancer should feel guilty for having sexual needs −3 −3 −2
20 Sex should be a low priority in the context of cancer −2 −2 +2
21 Only cancer involving “sexual” body parts (e.g. testicles, breast, prostate, cervix) affects a sexual relationship −3 −1 −3
22 Sex can no longer be spontaneous after the onset of cancer −2 −2 0
23 Partners who care for a person with cancer are too tired for sex 0 −2 −1
24 Having sex with someone with cancer may hurt them −1 0 0
25 It would be embarrassing for a person with cancer to ask their partner to have sex differently 0 −2 −2
26 A partner wouldn’t bring up the idea of using a sex toy for fear of hurting the feelings of the person with cancer 0 −1 0
27 A partner should be able to talk about their sexual needs to a person with cancer +3 +4 0
28 A person with cancer should be able to talk about their sexual needs to their partner +3 +5 +3
29 Open communication between people with cancer and their partner is important to a satisfying sexual relationship +4 +5 +4
30 It’s important that health care professionals discuss the affect of cancer on the sexual relationship with partners of people with cancer +4 +2 0
31 The sexual relationships of people with cancer are too personal an issue for health care professionals to discuss −4 −2 −2
32 The sexual relationship between a couple is a private matter 0 +1 +3
33 Health care professionals should discuss with people with cancer how cancer affects their sexual relationship +4 +2 0
34 Sex therapy is as important as other therapies a person receives for cancer +2 +2 2
35 If people with cancer and their partner cannot have sexual intercourse, they find other ways to be sexually intimate +3 +3 +3
36 If people with cancer and their partner cannot have a sexual relationship, their relationship is over −4 −4 −4
37 Real sex is penetrative sexual intercourse −4 −1 −4
38 It is okay for people with cancer and their partner to masturbate for sexual pleasure +3 +4 +3
39 Sexual aides keep a sexual relationship alive for people with cancer and their partner +1 +1 2
40 Physical changes that result from cancer would make you feel less confident about sex +2 +1 +1
41 If a man with cancer can’t get an erection, there is no point in being intimate −4 −4 −4
42 If a woman with cancer can’t get aroused, there is no point in being intimate −2 −2 −1
43 Once you’ve lost control of your bodily functions, it’s hard to think about sex +2 +1 +4
44 Partners would feel rejected if the person with cancer doesn’t want to have sex +1 0 −1
45 People with cancer should not be burdened by the sexual needs of their partner −1 0 +2
46 It is depression that ends the sexual relationship in couples dealing with cancer −1 +1 −1
47 The sexual relationship goes up and down with the rollercoaster of emotions experienced during cancer +3 +2 +4
48 Sex is good for dealing with the anxiety that comes with cancer +1 +3 −1
49 You shouldn’t have sex with someone while they are receiving chemotherapy −2 −1 0
50 If you have sex with someone with cancer, there is a real risk of catching it −5 −5 −5
51 You can’t spread cancer through sex +5 +3 +4
52 In the early stages of cancer, it’s important to maintain a sexual relationship to keep things normal 0 +4 −2
53 A sexual relationship is key to maintaining a good quality of life during the advanced stages of cancer −1 +1 −4
54 Sex can make cancer worse −5 −3 −5
55 Sex can’t be pleasurable if you’re experiencing pain +1 0 +1
56 Cancer makes parts of the body off limits 0 0 +1
  1. Bolded scores are for statements with normalized factor scores ≥±1.4 indicating the most powerful exemplars for each factor.