Few intervention studies have been conducted to help couples manage the effects of prostate cancer and maintain their quality of life. The objective of this study was to determine whether a family-based intervention could improve appraisal variables (appraisal of illness or caregiving, uncertainty, hopelessness), coping resources (coping strategies, self-efficacy, communication), symptom distress, and quality of life in men with prostate cancer and their spouses.
For this clinical trial, 263 patient-spouse dyads were stratified by research site, phase of illness, and treatment; then, they were randomized to the control group (standard care) or the experimental group (standard care plus a 5-session family intervention). The intervention targeted couples' communication, hope, coping, uncertainty, and symptom management. The final sample consisted of 235 couples: 123 couples in the control group and 112 couples in the experimental group. Data collection occurred at baseline before randomization and at 4 months, 8 months, and 12 months.
At 4-month follow-up, intervention patients reported less uncertainty and better communication with spouses than control patients, but they reported no other effects. Intervention spouses reported higher quality of life, more self-efficacy, better communication, and less negative appraisal of caregiving, uncertainty, hopelessness, and symptom distress at 4 months compared with controls, and some effects were sustained to 8 months and 12 months.
Men with prostate cancer and their spouses reported positive outcomes from a family intervention that offered them information and support. Programs of care need to be extended to spouses who likely will experience multiple benefits from intervention. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.