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The partner relationship in psychological response to breast cancer


  • Pistrang, Nancy
  • Barker, Chris


The social support literature has demonstrated that interpersonal relationships play an important role in adaptation to serious illness. However, researchers have recently emphasized the limitations of the social support construct and have urged a focus of attention away from global measures of perceived support and towards specific processes that occur in close relationships. The present study examined the role of one such process--informal helping from the partner--in women's psychological response to breast cancer. Structured interviews were conducted with 113 women who had received a diagnosis of breast cancer within the previous year. We found that satisfaction with the partner helping relationship was associated with psychological well-being. Even though most women had a good helping relationship with another person, this did not compensate for a problematic helping relationship with the partner. Good communication with the partner was characterized by high empathy and low withdrawal. The findings suggest that the partner plays an important role in breast cancer patients' adaptation, and that interventions aimed at couples may be an effective way of reducing psychological distress.

Suggested Citation

  • Pistrang, Nancy & Barker, Chris, 1995. "The partner relationship in psychological response to breast cancer," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 789-797, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:40:y:1995:i:6:p:789-797

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    Cited by:

    1. Bar-Tal, Yoram & Barnoy, Sivia & Zisser, Bracha, 2005. "Whose informational needs are considered? A comparison between cancer patients and their spouses' perceptions of their own and their partners' knowledge and informational needs," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(7), pages 1459-1465, April.


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