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Keywords

Cancer, Cancer prostate, Caregivers, Daily life, Dealing with everyday life, Experience, Hermeneutic, Partner, Phenomenology, Qualitative, Sexuality, Spouse

 

Authors

  1. Ervik, Bente MA in Ed, RNT
  2. Nordoy, Tone MD, PhD
  3. Asplund, Kenneth PhD, RNT

Abstract

Background: Spouses play an important role in how well patients with prostate cancer manage their illness. Whereas earlier studies mostly included both patients and spouses, this study focuses on the spouses' experiences during the course of the illness.

 

Objective: The objective of this study was to explore how the daily life of female spouses is affected by their husband's prostate cancer.

 

Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted with 9 spouses of men receiving potential curative treatment for prostate cancer.

 

Results: Prostate cancer in men had significant impact on spouses' everyday life. The results showed that spouses strived to achieve a balance between focusing on their own needs and meeting their husbands' needs along the course of the illness. Four themes emerged: strong and optimistic versus vulnerable and overstrained, maintaining the partner's sense of manhood, being on the sideline, and the need for relationships outside the immediate family.

 

Conclusion: Being a spouse to a man with prostate cancer is emotionally and practically demanding. There is a danger of the spouses suppressing their own needs in the process of supporting their husbands. Those spouses living in the situation over a period of years expressed fatigue and a shift in focus from their husbands' needs to their own needs for support.

 

Implications for Practice: Healthcare providers should provide support for spouses during the course of the illness, encourage spouses to participate in seminars for couples living with prostate cancer, and be aware of the potential for situational fatigue in spouses many years after the diagnosis.