Experiences and psychological distress of spouses of prostate cancer patients at time of diagnosis and primary treatment

We studied experiences and psychological distress of partners of prostate cancer patients at the time of diagnosis and primary treatment and investigated associates of their psychological wellbeing and the emotional social support they give to and receive from the patient. Using a quantitative questionnaire we studied the spouses' experiences (psychological response and sources of information and emotional support at diagnosis; impacts of prostate cancer on partnership and sex life; impact of side effects of treatment) and the emotional support given and received, and measured their psychological symptom distress. Many spouses reported distressing experiences and all psychological symptoms. Two thirds perceived no impact of the cancer on the partnership while 29% no change in sex life. Distress was associated with a shock, fear of the man's death and impact of side effects, whereas emotional support from a doctor predicted less distress. More support given to the patient was associated with information and emotional support received from a doctor and the patient's sexual dysfunction and pain, and less with experiences of depression, no impact on the partnership and the patient's irritableness. The spouses' distress was relieved by emotional support from a doctor, which along with received information also enhanced their capability to support the patient.

European journal of cancer care. 2017 Jun 21 [Epub ahead of print]

Ulla-Sisko Lehto, Arpo Aromaa, Teuvo L Tammela

Health Monitoring Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare THL, Helsinki, Finland., Department of Surgery, Tampere University Hospital, Tampere, Finland.