ORLANDO, FL USA (UroToday.com) - It has been shown that married men with prostate cancer live longer than those without partners, suggesting a support system contributes to overall survival. A great deal of the literature surrounds the physical ramifications of prostate cancer treatment but less examines the psychosocial impact of treatment on patients and their spouses. The research group was particularly interested in the experience of the partners of men with prostate cancer and therefore performed qualitative needs assessment of the partners of men treated for early stage prostate cancer.
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This work is part of an ongoing study designed to identify psychosocial factors that influence dyad satisfaction of prostate cancer couples. Partners (all were wives) of men who had undergone primary treatment for early stage prostate cancer within the past 9-24 months participated in semi-structured interviews in gender-specific focus groups to characterize prostate cancer knowledge, decision-making, and psychological stressors. Linguistic software was used to scour the focus group transcript for repeated words. This quantitative analysis was coupled with qualitative analysis to identify overarching themes.
A total of eleven couples participated in the focus groups. Eighty-two percent (n=9) of couples were Caucasian and 18% (n=2) were African-American. The majority of men had surgery (64%) as opposed to radiation (37%). Women were more likely have some college education (100%) than their partners (54%) and were younger, with a median age of 56.7 vs. 60.1. Linguistic analysis identified the following concepts as the most frequently used during the interviews: “couple/together” (28 occurrences), “scared” (18 occurrences), and “worry/anxiety” (14 occurrences). Qualitative analysis identified several unmet needs. The majority of women expressed they felt ill equipped to deal with psychological stressors associated with recovery. They were unsure how to best be supportive in terms of the loss of masculinity associated with erectile dysfunction and dealing with embarrassment over urinary incontinence. They were unprepared for the anxiety associated with cancer recurrence and the loss of their partner’s decision-making abilities. All but 1 (90.9%), believed their relationship grew stronger as a result.
The study group showed that in spite of the resources dedicated to prostate cancer education, partners of men with prostate cancer still have unmet needs. The work highlights the necessity for reputable educational resources for prostate cancer patients as well as partner-specific resources to improve psychosocial support, expectations, and preparedness for treatment and recovery.
Presented by Rebecca Zee, MD at the American Urological Association (AUA) Annual Meeting - May 16 - 21, 2014 - Orlando, Florida USA
Charlottesville, VA USA
Written by Achim Lusch, MD, University of California (Irvine), and medical writer for UroToday.com