Psychosocial adjustment of female partners of men with prostate cancer: a review of the literature



Advances in prostate cancer treatments since the 1990s have led to a growing proportion of patients living with the effects of the cancer. Various challenges face the man and his partner from the point of learning of the diagnosis: deciding among numerous diverse treatment options, dealing with side-effects of treatment and possibly facing the terminal phase of the illness. This invariably has an impact on the patient's family and, in view of the older age group of men usually affected, the experience of a partner is particularly relevant. A thorough review of the research literature reporting directly from partners of prostate cancer patients has not been undertaken previously. For this review, five databases were searched for the decade 1994–2005, during which most of the work in this field has been done. Very few evaluations of psychosocial interventions involving the partner were found, but there was a preponderance of qualitative studies involving small numbers of participants and quantitative surveys with little consistency in the measures used. The literature suggests that partners report more distress than patients, yet believe that patients are the more distressed, and the focus of concern of patients on their sexual function is not shared to an equal degree by their partners. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.