Partners of cancer survivors at risk from depressionPublished On: Tue, Apr 10th, 2007 | Cancer Research | By BioNews
Washington, April 10 – A new study shows that partners of cancer survivors are susceptible to the same stresses as cancer survivors in the long term. In some cases, they suffer more than the survivors.
The results of the study, which examined partners of cancer survivors who had undergone blood and marrow transplants (BMT) as part of their treatment, are being published in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO).
“These findings highlight the importance of addressing the needs of family members who care for cancer patients, and who may be suffering in silence,” said Michelle M. Bishop from the University of Florida and the study’s leading author.
“We need to acknowledge that cancer occurs in the context of a family that is profoundly affected by the experience, and that needs intervention for their own well-being.”
The study found that while partners of cancer survivors reported better physical health, less fatigue and less cognitive dysfunction than cancer survivors, they experienced equal levels of mental health impairment.
The study further found that while similar numbers of partners and survivors (20 percent compared to 22 percent) suffered from clinical depression, depressed partners were less likely than depressed survivors to receive mental health treatment (34 percent compared to 58 percent).
Partners also reported less social support, spiritual well being, marital satisfaction and more loneliness than survivors.
Previous research has found that partners of cancer patients experience as much if not more anxiety, distress and depression than patients themselves. But this is the first study to examine the very long-term quality of life issues faced by partners of cancer patients who have recovered.
The study evaluated 177 pairs of partners who had been together since cancer treatment. The pairs answered questions about their physical functioning and well being, psychological adjustment, social functioning, marital adjustment and spiritual comfort.(Xinhua)