OBJECTIVE:Spouses who are the major source of social support for married breast cancer patients sometimes do not know how to support the patient effectively. This study aimed to investigate the experiences and strategies of spouses identified as supportive for patients throughout the disease. METHODS:A qualitative study using semi-structured in-depth interviews was conducted with 22 husbands of Chinese women with breast cancer, who had effectively supported their wives. Thematic analysis was used for data analysis. RESULTS:Three themes emerged from the data: (a) following the diagnosis, the spouse focused on "problem solving under stress" by preparing the patient for the physician's disclosure of the diagnosis, helping her to cope with the shock, and aiding her in dealing with the treatment recommendations; (b) during treatment, the spouse focused on "functional compensation" to offset the patient's reduced self-care and family care abilities; and (c) following treatment, the spouse focused on "role return" by adapting to changes in the patient and assisting her return to the family and society. CONCLUSION:Chinese spouses of women with breast cancer exhibited support strategies that varied with disease progress. Healthcare providers should aid spouses in providing support according to the changing needs of patients with breast cancer.
Eur J Cancer Care (Engl) (European journal of cancer care)
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