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Authors

  1. Carlson, Linda E. PhD
  2. Ottenbreit, Nicki BA
  3. Pierre, Mereille St. BA
  4. Bultz, Barry D. PhD

Abstract

Purpose:: This exploratory study was designed to examine partners' understanding of patients' experience with prostate or breast cancer and to assess the congruence between patient and partner perceptions regarding social support and the cancer experience.

 

Methods:: Partner understanding of patient mood was assessed by comparing the Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire scores of patients with the POMS scores of their partners (who were instructed to complete the questionnaire as patient proxies). A semistructured interview with corresponding questions for patients and partners assessed the congruency between patient and partner perceptions regarding social support and the cancer experience.

 

Results and Conclusions:: Twenty-three couples participated. Eight couples were woman with breast cancer and their husbands, and 15 couples were men with prostate cancer and their wives. The patients with breast cancer and their partners were an average age of 48 years and had been married for 20 years, while the patients with prostate cancer and their partners were 67 years of age and had been married for 40 years, on average. Overall, female partners possessed a more accurate understanding of their husbands' experience with prostate cancer than male partners had of women'S breast cancer experience. These men tended to overestimate the breast cancer patients' self-reported levels of distress. Patient and partner perceptions regarding social support in the relationship and the cancer experience were also more congruent in prostate couples than in breast couples. This may be a factor not only of gender but also of age and the length of time that these couples had been together, which was twice as long for the prostate couples. Overall, however, patients were well adjusted and felt understood by their partners and satisfied with the support their partners provided.