Objective. While dating is critical in the formation of a lifelong romantic relationship, women with breast cancer or a genetic susceptibility to developing this disease report a myriad of dating concerns. This review synthesises and discusses the perceived dating barriers and concerns in this population. Method. A systematic search of CINAHL, Embase, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and PubMed was undertaken and yielded 19 published qualitative studies. Papers were subjected to critical appraisal to ensure the integrity of findings. Results. Six areas of concern were identified: Feeling unattractive due to treatment side effects; perceiving limited dating partners available; determining how, when and what to disclose; fear of cancer recurrence and reduced life expectancy; apprehension about entering into a new sexual relationship; and dating urgency and not wanting to ‘waste time’ on partners without long-term potential. Conclusions. This paper provides a valuable synthesis of the complex issues, concerns and decisions that single women face at different stages of relationship formation following their breast cancer experience. Future research is warranted to explore the perceptions, appraisals and beliefs underlying these concerns, to help guide the future design and development of appropriate informational and supportive care offered to breast cancer patients.
- breast cancer