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Differences in Physical, Emotional, and Social Adjustment of Intimate, Family, and Nonfamily Patient-Partner Dyads Based on a Breast Cancer Intervention Study

Deborah Witt Sherman
Judith Haber
Carol Noll Hoskins
Wendy C. Budin
Greg Maislin
Jacqui Cater
Frances Cartwright-Alcarese
Christina Beyer McSherry
Renee Feurbach
Mildred Ortu Kowalski
Mary Rosedale
ONF 2009, 36(4), E185-E197 DOI: 10.1188/09.ONF.E185-E197

Purpose/Objectives: To assess the degree to which postsurgical adjustment in patients with breast cancer and their partners depends on the nature of the patient-partner dyad relationship.

Design: Secondary data analysis from a randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Three cancer centers and one suburban community hospital in New York.

Sample: 205 patient-partner dyads (112 intimate-partner, 58 family-member, and 35 nonfamily-member dyads).

Methods: Mann-Whitney nonparametric comparisons and chi-square tests were used to assess dyad types on continuous and categorical variables, and a mixed model for repeated measures compared postsurgical adjustment among dyad types.

Main Research Variables: Type of patient-partner dyads and physical, emotional, and social adjustment.

Findings: Patients in intimate-partner dyads were younger, had greater incomes, and discovered the lump by routine mammogram as compared to family- or nonfamily-member dyads. No significant differences were observed in patients' physical or emotional adjustment. Patients with intimate partners had greater difficulty in their social and domestic environments. Partners in intimate-partner dyads had lower scores on psychological well-being, more problems in social and domestic adjustment, and less social support to promote social adjustment.

Conclusions: Women with breast cancer experience successful physical and emotional adjustment whether they have intimate-partner, family-member, or nonfamily-member partners. Intimate partners are at greater risk for emotional and social adjustment issues.

Implications for Nursing: When designing interventions, consideration must be given to the type of patient-partner dyad involved.

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