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. 2004 Nov;9(Pt 4):465-78.
doi: 10.1348/1359107042304588.

Psychological Distress in Couples Dealing With Colorectal Cancer: Gender and Role Differences and Intracouple Correspondence

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Psychological Distress in Couples Dealing With Colorectal Cancer: Gender and Role Differences and Intracouple Correspondence

Jolanda Tuinstra et al. Br J Health Psychol. .

Abstract

Objectives: This longitudinal study examined patterns of psychological distress in couples facing colorectal cancer within 6 months after surgery. In addition, correspondence in psychological distress was investigated between patients and their spouses, taking into account the gender of the patient.

Method: The study had a longitudinal design, involving three assessment points; (T1) within 2 weeks after surgery, (T2) 3 months after baseline and (T3) 6 months after baseline. At T1, respondents were asked to indicate how they felt during the week prior to surgery. At T2 and T3, respondents reported their feelings during the preceding week. Psychological distress was measured using the 20-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) in 137 couples.

Results: Concerning the week prior to surgery, females reported more distress being a patient, whereas males reported more distress being a spouse. In comparison with a reference group, females as well as males, regardless of their role, showed increased levels of psychological distress prior to surgery. At 3 and 6 months following surgery, increased levels of distress continued to exist in females, whereas males' distress returned to normal levels. Neither within female-patient couples, nor within male-patient couples, were associations between patients' and spouses' distress found.

Conclusion: We demonstrated a considerable impact of the cancer diagnosis on both female and male patients and their spouses before and 3 months after surgery. Six months after surgery, females, in particular, appear to be vulnerable to distress.

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