Husbands' perspective of living with wives' ovarian cancer

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The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the experience of ovarian cancer from the husband's perspective.


Participants were recruited through a large Midwestern hospital and a state ovarian cancer advocacy organization. A one-time telephone interview was conducted with each participant. The interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed and analyzed for themes.


Eleven husbands were interviewed. Themes included the emotional devastation of the initial diagnosis, the ovarian cancer being a whole new focus/priority, changes to the marital relationship, his response influenced by her response, others sharing the burden of providing support and relying on other family members.


Ovarian cancer presents unique challenges for husbands. Both positive and negative effects can result and can linger well past the diagnosis and treatment period. Social support, particularly from family members, may be especially helpful to husbands of women with ovarian cancer. Husbands experience multiple emotional, psychological, social effects from their experience with ovarian cancer. Addressing these effects in practice and future research is imperative. Research based on multidimensional frameworks or family theory using standardized instruments may further elucidate consequences of ovarian cancer on spouses and could evaluate predictors or positive and negative effects.

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