Facing Spousal Cancer During Child-Rearing Years: Do Social Support and Hardiness Moderate the Impact of Psychological Distress on Quality of Life?

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Partners of cancer patients report psychological distress and reduced quality of life. However, partners’ mental health status and quality of life during child-rearing years and the influence of social support and hardiness on their well-being have not yet been studied.


The aim of this study was to describe psychological distress, quality of life, social support, and hardiness of the partners facing spousal cancer during child-rearing years and investigate whether social support or hardiness moderated the relationship between psychological distress and quality of life.


Cross-sectional data were collected in Norway from December 2013 to July 2015 as part of the Cancer-PEPSONE study.


Five questionnaires were administered to 14 females and 21 males (n = 35). Participants reported more psychological distress and lower quality-of-life scores than other healthy Norwegian populations. Psychological distress seemed to be associated with their not being in control of their futures. Received social support moderated the effect of psychological distress on quality of life.


Facing spousal cancer during child-rearing years seemed to have a substantial impact on partners’ mental health and an adverse impact on their quality of life. Accordingly, these partners’ self-care abilities may be reduced. Received social support may reduce the multiple burdens and consequently allow for enhancement of self-care.

Implications for Practice:

Interventions should aim to improve the social support provided to child-rearing partners, which may improve their quality of life. Providing adequate information about their partner’s cancer illness and treatment may enhance their feelings of control, which may be beneficial for their mental health status.

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