A qualitative analysis of couples' communication regarding colorectal cancer screening using the Interdependence Model

Patient Educ Couns. 2012 Apr;87(1):18-22. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2011.07.012. Epub 2011 Aug 10.


Objective: Colorectal cancer screening (CRCS) uptake in the US remains low. The purpose of this study was to use qualitative methods to characterize partner support and influence regarding CRCS decisions among couples who were both either adherent or non-adherent with CRCS.

Methods: Eighteen couples were interviewed regarding their discussions about CRCS and support and influence strategies used. Analyses were guided by the Interdependence Model.

Results: Direct and indirect partner effects were found. Direct partner effects were evidenced when the impact of one spouse on the CRCS decision of the other was clearly defined and intended. Three direct partner effect themes were leadership, persuasion, and partnership. Indirect partner effects were evidenced by one spouse considering the information, experience, or actions of the other in ways that informed CRCS decision-making, even if that influence was not intentional or specifically directed at CRCS. Three indirect partner effect themes were companionship, support, and peer socialization.

Conclusion: Spouse influence plays a role in CRCS decisions. Individuals view CRCS as being important to the health and quality of their relationship.

Practice implications: With this increased understanding of the interpersonal context of CRCS, it may be possible to include close others in interventions to improve CRCS.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Communication*
  • Decision Making
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Motivation
  • Qualitative Research
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spouses / psychology*