Responses of spouses of women with breast cancer to the disease
Tiryaki, A. (2010) Responses of spouses of women with breast cancer to the disease. Anadolu Psikiyatri Dergisi, 11 (2). pp. 95-101.
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Objective: Breast cancer is one of the main issues affecting woman's health. It is often emphasized that the support a woman diagnosed with breast cancer receives from her spouse is quite important to facilitate her adjustment to the disease and treatment. However, researches on how men respond to the various stages of this disease and how they are affected by this process have only recently begun. The aim of this study is to investigate several psychological variables, including symptoms of depression and anxiety, in men whose wives are diagnosed with breast cancer as well as the sexual and dyadic adjustment. Method: Twenty five voluntary female patients out of 50 patients treated for non-metastatic breast cancer, who have had unilateral mastectomy and who have undergone four-course chemotherapy and curative radiotherapy at KTU Faculty of Medicine Department of Radiation Oncology for breast cancer were enrolled in the study group. The control group consisted of 25 men married to healthy women, who were selected among the society and matched for age, gender, and education status with the study group. Sociodemographic data form, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Beck Depression Scale, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Golombok-Rust Sexual Satisfaction Scale and Dyadic Adjust-ment Scale were administered both to the study and control groups. Results: Severity of depression and anxiety symptoms as well as the scores obtained from the affectional expression subscale of Dyadic Adjustment Scale have been found significantly higher in the study group compared to the control group (p<0.05). The correlation analysis between the affectional expression subscales showed that expression of affection between spouses have a strong and statistically significant influence on their sexual lives (r=0.765, p<0.05). The scores of avoid-ance subscale of Golombok-Rust Sexual Satisfaction Scale in the control group have been found significantly higher than the study group (p<0.05). It has been concluded that this difference might be resulting from the fact that men in the study group do not feel uneasy or anxious about sexual activity and thus they do not avoid sex (r=0.945, p<0.005). Conclusion: It has been found that the spouses of women treated for breast cancer avoid sexual life less than those in the control group and they are also more able to express their affections sexually. Our findings suggest that the spouses of women with breast cancer provide the necessary support to their wives during the disease and treatment processes. The relatively higher levels of depression and anxiety in these men, which can be regarded as signs of distress, suggest that effective monitoring and prevention programs are required in terms of certain psychological disorders.
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