A review of the impacts of prostate cancer on the mental health of patients' partners

Marie Steinmetz, Christopher Sharpley, Vicki Bitsika

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractResearchpeer-review


Prostate Cancer (PCa) has adverse effects on the mental health of patients, leading to increased mortality from all causes. In addition, some studies have reported adverse effects upon the partners of PCa patients, although there has been no detailed critical review of those studies. This poster presents such a review, identifies the major findings and limitations in studies to date, and raises several issues for further research.

A search of PsychINFO, Ebsco Megafile Complete and PubMed for the period 1998 to 2013 was conducted using the descriptors prostate cancer, spouse, partner, family, depression, anxiety, stress and counselling. Only articles published in English in refereed journals were included. Participants ranged from 7–164 patient-partner dyads, with a total of 1,281 patient-partner dyads overall.

From 50 articles identified, partners of PCa patients felt challenged by: helping their husbands focus on health; accommodating changes to their marital relationship (especially concerning sexual intimacy); and appreciating the positives in their lives. Effective communication assisted patients and partners cope with the anxiety associated with the diagnosis, but poor communication led to more psychological distress in both patients and their partners. Avoidant coping was associated with increased psychological distress, but positive dyadic coping led to decreased psychological distress in both patients and their partners.

Further research should focus on the issues of: communication needs and styles of patients and their partners; methods of assisting couples to cope effectively with deteriorations in their relationships; and adopting a positive outlook. Methodologies should also include ongoing data-collection from patients and partners rather than only “snap-shot” studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-60
Number of pages2
JournalBJU International
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


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