Depression in husbands of breast cancer patients: relationships to coping and social support

Support Care Cancer. 2011 Apr;19(4):455-66. doi: 10.1007/s00520-010-0835-8. Epub 2010 Mar 10.


Purpose: The purpose of the present study was to examine depression in husbands of women with breast cancer, as depression is typically as high in husbands as in patients, and impacts functioning in both.

Methods: We compared husbands of patients to husbands of women without chronic illness on depressive symptoms with the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, social support with the Interpersonal Support Evaluation List, and coping with the Ways of Coping Questionnaire. Using the stress and coping model, we examined whether coping mediated social support and depression differently by group, as has been found in the literature.

Results: Husbands of patients reported higher scores on the measure of depression and lower use of problem-focused coping, while groups reported equivalent social support. Escape-avoidance coping emerged as a full mediator between social support and depression in husbands of patients, but only a partial mediator in comparison husbands. Accepting responsibility coping partially mediated social support and depression in both groups. Low social support appears particularly detrimental in husbands of patients as it is associated with ineffective coping and depression.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that among husbands of patients, social support relates to depression only through its relationship with coping, indicating healthcare providers should direct attention and intervention to the coping strategies employed by husbands with low social support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Social Support
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires