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Relationship Satisfaction and Erectile Functions in Men Receiving Laparoscopic Radical Prostatectomy: Effects of Provision and Receipt of Spousal Social Support


Nina Knoll, PhD, Charité— Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Institute of Medical Psychology, Luisenstr. 57, 10117 Berlin, Germany. E-mail:


Introduction.  Prostate carcinoma ranges among the most common cancers in German men. One of its standard treatments is radical prostatectomy (RP). Postoperative comorbidities of RP include erectile dysfunctions, which may impact patients' relationship quality. Little is known, to date, about patients' and their partners' psychosocial resources that might reduce the risk of damage to relationship outcomes. Such resources include spousal social support interactions.

Aim.  We investigated cross-sectional and prospective relations of patient-reported and partner-reported received and provided spousal support, and patients' indicators of erectile functions and relationship satisfaction prior to and 1 year following laparoscopic radical prostatectomy.

Main Outcome Measures.  Patient-reported relationship satisfaction (Relationship Questionnaire; Fragebogen zur Partnerschaftsdiagnostik) and erectile functions (International Index of Erectile Function) were investigated as main outcomes.

Methods.  One hundred thirty-nine patients and their heterosexual partners provided data prior to and 12 months after the operation. Main outcomes were patient-reported relationship satisfaction and erectile functions. In addition to several covariates, central predictors were patients' and partners' accounts of received and provided spousal support. Data were assessed using questionnaires.

Results.  Erectile functions were associated with patients' relationship satisfaction presurgery, but not 12 months postsurgery. Patient-reported received and provided support was positively associated with relationship satisfaction at all times. Patient-reported provision of support was also related with better erectile functions prior to and postsurgery. Some of these associations could be replicated using partner accounts of respective support indicators.

Conclusions.  Regarding patients' relationship satisfaction and sexual functions, findings associate more consistent benefit with patients' own provision of supports when compared with their own support receipt. Knoll N, Burkert S, Kramer J, Roigas J, and Gralla O. Relationship satisfaction and erectile functions in men receiving laparoscopic radical prostatectomy: Effects of provision and receipt of spousal social support. J Sex Med 2009;6:1438–1450.