Representations of vaginal symptoms in cervical cancer survivors

Jennifer M. Tornatta, Janet S. Carpenter, Jeanne Schilder, Higinia R. Cardenes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


No research has investigated patients' representations of the vaginal symptoms commonly experienced after cervical cancer treatment. Leventhal's Self-regulation or Common Sense Model was used to explore these representations and their relationships with quality of life after cervical cancer. Women posttreatment for cervical cancer (n = 26) from a Midwest cancer center provided information on symptom representations for their 3 most bothersome symptoms and also completed a quality-of-life scale. Women perceived vaginal symptoms as mild to moderate overall but rated approximately one-third of 11 different symptoms as severe. Symptoms identified most frequently as the most bothersome were painful intercourse (23%), decrease in sexual desire (15%), and vaginal dryness (12%). On average, symptoms were mildly distressing and acute, had a minimal effect on life, and were associated with an indeterminate degree of perceived control. Cause was attributed equally to treatment and to the cancer. Quality of life was below normed data, to a degree consistent with a minimally important difference for total well-being scores and physical, emotional, and functional well-being. Emotional and consequence representations were significantly related to quality of life. Understanding and altering symptom representations may improve quality of life for women treated for cervical cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-384
Number of pages7
JournalCancer nursing
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009


  • Cervical cancer
  • Commonsense model
  • Quality of life
  • Symptoms
  • Vagina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)

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