Psychosocial morbidity in prostate cancer: II. A comparison of patients and partners



Objective To assess psychometrically a new questionnaire for measuring the psychosocial morbidity in patients with prostate cancer and in their partners, and to compare the morbidity of patients and their partners.

Patients and methods A sequential sample of patients with any stage of prostate cancer and attending general urology outpatient clinics was identified. The questionnaire was administered to 135 patients and their partners in their homes. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) questionnaire was also administered to permit construct validation of the new measure. Test-retest reliability was calculated by re-administering the questionnaire to 60 individuals. The hypothetical general cancer distress and social subscales of the questionnaire were also tested for internal consistency. Psychosocial morbidity scores obtained by the patients and partners were compared.

Results The questionnaire had good test-retest reliability and construct validity when tested against the HADS. The general cancer distress and social subscales were internally consistent. General cancer distress was highly prevalent and significantly more severe in partners than in patients. There was some degree of general cancer distress in 47% of patients and 76% of partners, whereas severe distress was detected in 11% and 30%, respectively. Social morbidity was limited and of equal severity between the groups. Treatment-related worries and concerns about pain and physical limitation were more common among partners than patients, whereas there was no difference for worries about urinary symptoms. Sexual concerns were the least prevalent and were more of a problem for patients than partners.

Conclusion Psychosocial morbidity in prostate cancer is highly prevalent, not only among patients but particularly among their partners. The new questionnaire showed adequate psychometric properties for use in identifying individuals with significant psychosocial morbidity. Applying the questionnaire should permit emotional and informational support to be targeted at the most vulnerable.