Quality of Life in Partners of Young and Old Breast Cancer Survivors

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Abstract

Background

Partners of breast cancer survivors experience the effects of a spouse’s cancer years after treatment. Partners of younger survivors (YPs) may experience greater problems than partners of older survivors (OPs), just as younger survivors experience greater problems than their older counterparts.

Objectives

The aims of this study were to (1) compare quality of life (QoL) in YPs and OPs and (2) determine contributing factors to each group’s QoL.

Methods

Cross-sectional data were collected from YPs (n = 227) and OPs (n = 281) through self-report. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to determine differences between YPs and OPs on QoL while controlling for covariates. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine what contributes to each group’s QoL.

Results

Partners of younger survivors reported better physical function (effect size [ES], −0.57), lower marital satisfaction (ES, 0.39), and lower overall QoL (ES, 0.43) than OPs. Predictors of QoL also differed between partner groups. For YPs, overall QoL was predicted by greater physical functioning, fewer depressive symptoms, higher marital satisfaction, higher parenting satisfaction, and more personal resources (R2 = 0.47, F5,195 = 35.05, P < .001). For OPs, overall QoL was predicted by fewer depressive symptoms, higher parenting satisfaction, higher spirituality, and greater social support from the breast cancer survivor spouse (R2 = 0.33, F4,244 = 29.80, P < .001).

Conclusion

Partners of older survivors reported greater QoL than YPs. Common factors contributing to QoL between YPs and OPs were fewer depressive symptoms and higher parenting satisfaction.

Implications for Practice

Partners of breast cancer survivors may need support coping with their spouse/partner’s cancer. Partners of younger survivors may require more support than OPs.

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