Identifying Problems Faced by Spouses and Partners of Patients With Prostate Cancer

Starlyn M. Hawes

Vanessa L. Malcarne

Celine M. Ko

Georgia R. Sadler

Rajni Banthia

Sandra A. Sherman

James W. Varni

Joseph Schmidt

ONF 2006, 33(4), 807-814. DOI: 10.1188/06.ONF.807-814

Purpose/Objectives: To describe problems chosen as targets of problem-solving therapy by spouses and partners of patients with prostate cancer.

Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional.

Setting: Spouses' and partners' homes.

Sample: Spouses and partners (N = 66) aged 32-79 years (X¯ = 60 years). The sample was predominantly Caucasian (82%) and African American (8%).

Methods: As part of a randomized clinical trial, women received problem-solving therapy to help manage issues related to their husbands' or partners' prostate cancer. The issues they chose to address during therapy and the categorization of the issues fell into four groups: treatment and side-effect issues, patient issues, family issues, and spouse issues. Scores on the Social Problem-Solving Inventory-Revised, which measures everyday problem-solving skills, and the Profile of Mood States, which measures mood disturbance, were contrasted with the problems women chose to address.

Main Research Variables: Problems faced by spouses and partners of patients with prostate cancer.

Findings: The most frequently reported categories were spouse issues (e.g., women's emotional wellness, balancing their medical concerns with their husbands' condition) and patient issues (e.g., men's lack of communication, fear, or depression).

Conclusions: Findings of this study alert nurses to a variety of key problem areas for spouses and partners of patients with prostate cancer.

Implications for Nursing: Spouses and partners play a critical role when their loved ones have cancer. Understanding the problems spouses and partners face can help nurses design optimal supportive care interventions.

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