MSN Thesis Defense, “Using cognitive interviews to evaluate the four-item dyadic sexual communication scale in couples who might benefit from a palliative approach”

Academic Events
Trinity Western University
Alumni Hall, Reimer Student Centre
7600 Glover Road
Langley, BC V2Y 1Y1

By: Patricia Chisholm

Supervisor: Rick Sawatzky

Second Reader: Robin Cohen

Third Reader: Maggie Theron

Exam Chair: Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham

Background. Much of the sexuality research with people who have life threatening diagnoses and their intimate partners has focused on sexuality of people with cancer. Sexuality research with people with progressive chronic illnesses tends to focus on functional sexuality of the patient, neglecting other issues and the couple experience. Dyadic sexual communication has been investigated with couples in the context of cancer using the Dyadic Sexual Communication Scale (DSCS). The purpose of this study was to use cognitive interviews to evaluate the appropriateness and acceptability of the four-item DSCS, and to understand perspectives on sexuality and dyadic sexual communication in couples who might benefit from a palliative approach.

Methods. Face-to-face cognitive interviews were conducted with four Vancouver Island, BC couples aged 30-90. Each member of the couple was interviewed separately using think-aloud as well as probing techniques. The transcribed interview data was analyzed using Cognitive Aspects of Survey Methodology (CASM) and grounded theory techniques.

Results. Most of the DSCS items were comprehensible but for some concerns about word choice and syntactical complexity. DSCS scores may identify couples that are struggling with dyadic sexual communication. Evaluating dyadic sexual communication may reveal a couple’s overall relational well-being, and may elicit socially desirable responses such as satisficing.  In the context of progressive chronic or debilitating illness couples were fixating on function, exploring alternatives, and communicating (non)mutuality.

Conclusions. Nurses are encouraged to educate themselves about sexuality in order to be prepared to discuss the topic with people who might want more support. More sexuality research is needed with the four-item DSCS and with couples who might benefit from a palliative approach.