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A longitudinal study of coping strategies in men receiving radiotherapy and neo-adjuvant androgen deprivation for prostate cancer: a quantitative and qualitative study

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Abstract

Aim

This paper reports a study on how men cope with the side-effects of radiotherapy and neo-adjuvant androgen deprivation for prostate cancer up to 1 year after treatment.

Background

With early detection and improved treatments, prostate cancer survivors are living longer with the disease and the side-effects of treatment. How they cope affects their long-term physical and mental health.

Design

A prospective, longitudinal, exploratory design using both qualitative and quantitative methods was used in this study.

Method

Between September 2006–September 2007 149 men who were about to undergo radical radiotherapy ± androgen deprivation for localized prostate cancer in Northern Ireland were recruited to the study. They completed the Brief Cope scale at four time-points.

Results

Acceptance, positive reframing, emotional support, planning and, just getting on with it, were the most common ways of coping. Fewer men used coping strategies less at 6 months and 1 year after radiotherapy in comparison to pre-treatment and 4–6 weeks after radiotherapy. Interviews with these men demonstrated that men adapted to a new norm, with the support of their wives/partners and did not readily seek professional help. A minority of men used alcohol, behavioural disengagement and self blame as ways of coping.

Conclusion

Men used a variety of ways of coping to help them deal with radiotherapy and neo-adjuvant androgen deprivation for up to 12 months after radiotherapy. Interventions need to be developed to take account of the specific needs of partners of men with prostate cancer and single men who have prostate cancer.

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