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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 Budin
Greg Maislin
Jacqui Cater
Frances Cartwright
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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