Breast cancer in a wife: How husbands cope and how well it works

Silvia M. Bigatti, Linda F. Brown, Jennifer L. Steiner, Kathy D. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Scopus citations


Background: Husbands of patients with breast cancer (HBCs) experience as much as or even more distress than patients. Husbands' coping strategies may predict their level of distress. Objective: The present study examined the coping strategies of HBCs compared with husbands of women without cancer (HWCs) and the relationship between coping and various psychosocial variables. Methods: Psychosocial and physical health correlates of coping in both groups were assessed. Husbands of women with breast cancer (n = 83) and without breast cancer (n = 79) completed self-report questionnaires including the Ways of Coping Questionnaire, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale, the Subjective Stress Scale, the Satisfaction With Life Scale, and the Locke-Wallace Marital Adjustment Test, in addition to measures of burden. Results: The HBC and HWC groups were significantly different for 6 of the 8 coping styles assessed, with HBC using these strategies less than HWCs. Among HBCs, higher use of distancing, accepting responsibility, and escape-avoidance was associated with higher stress and symptoms of depression, and distancing and accepting responsibility were associated with lower marital satisfaction. Conclusions: Results suggest that coping strategies may be different when dealing with cancer in a wife than at other times and that coping relates to well-being and is therefore worthy of focus. Implications For Practice: Simple assessments of primary coping strategies may help clinicians identify HBCs in need of interventions. Husbands of women with breast cancer can be given problems to solve that will help them cope and help the patient and clinic staff as well. Interventions aimed at the couple, and not exclusively the HBC, may be particularly helpful.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-201
Number of pages9
JournalCancer nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2011


  • Breast cancer
  • Coping skills
  • Husbands
  • Psychological adjustment
  • Spouses
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Breast cancer in a wife: How husbands cope and how well it works'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this