Cancer and its treatments cause significant changes in sexuality that affect the quality of life of both patients and their partners. As these issues are not always discussed with healthcare professionals, cancer patients turn to online health communities to find answers to questions or for emotional support pertaining to sexual issues. By using a discursive psychological perspective, we explore the social actions that participants in online health forums perform when discussing sexuality. Data were collected by entering search terms in the search bars of three online health forums. Our analysis of 213 threads, containing 1,275 posts, provides insight into how participants who present themselves as women with cancer account for their sexual issues and, in doing so, orient to two intertwined norms: Having untroubled sex is part of a couple’s relationship, and male partners are entitled to having untroubled sex. We discuss the potential harmful consequences of orienting to norms related to sexual behaviour. Yet, our findings can also help healthcare professionals in broaching the topic of sexuality in conversations with cancer patients. The insights of this study into what female patients themselves treat as relevant can assist health professionals in better aligning with patients’ interactional concerns.
|European Journal of Health Communication
|Year and volume
|online health forums, cancer patient, discursive psychology, sexuality, sexual health
|Digital Object Identifier