Partner Social Constraints and Early-Stage Breast Cancer: Longitudinal Associations With Psychosexual Adjustment

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Abstract

Women with breast cancer (BC) who perceive social constraints on their disclosure of cancer-related concerns are more likely to experience distress and have difficulty adjusting after diagnosis. Much of the existing research on psychosocial adjustment is cross-sectional in nature and an important area of concern that has received little attention is psychosexual adjustment to cancer surgery and treatment. This study examined whether perceived partner social constraints were associated with psychosexual adjustment over time in 108 BC survivors. Early-stage BC patients completed measures of partner social constraints, psychosexual adjustment, and relationship dissatisfaction approximately 1 month, 8 months, and 4 years after initial surgery. Latent growth curve modeling revealed partner social constraints to be a significant time-varying, within-person predictor of psychosexual adjustment at each time point after controlling for relationship dissatisfaction. BC surgery type, reconstructive surgery, cancer stage, chemotherapy, or antihormonal adjuvant treatment did not moderate this effect. Findings point to a long-term link between social constraints and psychosexual outcomes in BC patients and clinical implications for women coping with BC.

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