Transitions of Male Partners of Women With Breast Cancer: Hope, Guilt, and Quality of Life

Wendy Duggleby

Jasmine Thomas

Kelly Montford

Roanne Thomas

Cheryl Nekolaichuk

Sunita Ghosh

Ceinwen Cumming

Katia Tonkin

male caregivers, breast cancer, hope, guilt, transitions, mixed-methods approach
ONF 2015, 42(2), 134-141. DOI: 10.1188/15.ONF.134-141

Purpose/Objectives: To (a) describe the types of transitions experienced by male spousal caregivers of women with breast cancer and the strategies used by male spouses to deal with these transitions and (b) examine factors related to their quality of life, including demographic variables, self-efficacy, caregiver guilt, hope, the quality of life of their partner with breast cancer, and transitions.

Design: Cross-sectional, transformational, mixed-methods approach.

Setting: Participants’ homes.

Sample: 105 dyads of male spouses and their female partners diagnosed with stages I–III breast cancer.

Methods: 600 surveys were mailed to women with breast cancer and their male partners. Significant variables were entered into a multivariate model.

Main Research Variable: Male caregiver quality of life.

Findings: The quality of life of male spouse participants was positively influenced by hope (p < 0.01). It was negatively influenced by caregiver guilt scores (p < 0.01) and the method of dealing with their transitions by “doing what needs to be done” (p = 0.04).

Conclusions: The male caregivers with higher quality-of- life scores reported higher hope and lower caregiver guilt scores. They reported lower quality-of-life scores if they dealt with transitions by “doing what needs to be done.”

Implications for Nursing: Strategies to support male spouses of women with breast cancer should involve ways to foster hope, reduce feelings of guilt, and encourage male caregivers to engage more in supporting their spouses.

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