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Couples' Experiences With Prostate Cancer: Focus Group Research

Janet Harden
Ann Schafenacker
Laurel Northouse
Darlene Mood
David Smith
Kenneth Pienta
Maha Hussain
Karen Baranowski
ONF 2002, 29(4), 701-709 DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.701-709

Purpose/Objectives: To explore the experiences of couples living with prostate cancer, the impact of the illness on their quality of life, their ability to manage symptoms, and their suggestions for interventions that would help them to improve their daily experiences.

Design: Descriptive, qualitative.

Setting: Six focus groups were used to obtain the data; two were patient-only groups, two were spouse-caregiver groups, and two were dyad groups. The focus groups were conducted at two comprehensive cancer centers in the midwestern region of the United States.

Sample: 42 participants: 22 men with prostate cancer and 20 spouse-caregivers.

Methods: Focus group discussions were tape-recorded, and the content was analyzed.

Main Research Variables: Quality of life, symptom experience, and areas for intervention.

Findings: Four major themes emerged from the data: enduring uncertainty, living with treatment effects, coping with changes, and needing help.

Conclusions: Participants had a need for information and support. Both men and spouse-caregivers felt unprepared to manage treatment effects. Symptoms had a broad effect on couples, not just men. Positive effects of the illness, as well as negative effects, emerged from the themes.

Implications for Nursing: Attention needs to be given to methods of providing information and support to couples coping with prostate cancer. Both patients and partners need to be included in discussions about the effect of the illness and treatments so that both can feel more prepared to manage them.

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