Israeli and Chinese partners of women with breast cancer: a cross-cultural view of marital issues

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Cultural nuances may influence the interface between the cancer experience and marital issues, specifically for the partner. Most of the literature has focused on the woman's narrative or couple's adjustment to cancer in general. The purpose of this study was to describe and compare the marital relationship, sexuality, and marital adjustment of Israeli and Chinese husbands of women with breast cancer and the discussion of the health-care team concerning these issues.


A convenience sample of 50 Chinese and 50 Israeli men, ages of 28–79 years, completed components of the Psychological Adjustment to Illness Scale, the Locke Wallace Adjustment Scale, and a background questionnaire.


The majority of husbands were in their first marriage. The average time since diagnosis was 16.7 months. No significant difference was found between the two groups on issues of marital relationship. Significant differences were found between Israeli and Chinese husbands on sexual interest, pleasure, and performance (p<0.05). Israeli husbands reported a significantly higher level of marital adjustment as opposed to the Chinese husbands (p= 0.006). Marital adjustment for both groups was significantly related only to perceived quality of the relationship (p<0.03).


Significant cultural differences were found in sexuality variables with no differences discerned on marital relationship variables. Couple-based interventions for marital issues are a critical component of support for both partners. Culturally sensitive assessment and care of the spouse as well as the woman with breast cancer should be part of a holistic, comprehensive family care plan. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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