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When Partner Has Breast Cancer, Men Find Their Own Ways to Cope

Support groups don't meet their emotional needs, study finds

THURSDAY, Aug. 9 (HealthDay News) -- New Canadian research finds that male partners of women with breast cancer aren't big fans of spousal support groups and instead choose to de-stress by exercising or hanging out with friends.

For the study, published in the July edition of Oncology Nursing Forum, men in Edmonton and Saskatoon answered questions about how they dealt with their partners' breast cancer. Many said they struggled to remain hopeful.

"There are many programs out there for women, but for men a lot of support mechanisms are support groups, and it was very clear from the participants in our study that's not what they wanted," Wendy Duggleby, endowed nursing research chairwoman in aging and quality of life at the University of Alberta, said in a journal news release. "What these spouses needed was help finding ways to do things for themselves to help reduce their stress."

"If their husbands lose hope, the wives are really, really worried about them and they often lose hope themselves," Duggleby said. "For women with breast cancer, it actually helps with their own quality of life if we can do something to help the men. It's very interconnected."

The surveys also found that men had difficulty going to medical appointments with their partners due to work schedules.

"If you're a working man, it becomes difficult to go to some appointments, although some of that is just perception," Duggleby said. They're not being excluded but they feel like they're being excluded. It's part of breaking down some of those barriers in cancer care."

One way to help men in these situations is to provide guides about where to find information, Duggleby said.

"They really do want something that's specific for them, tailored for their needs. It doesn't have to be done through a research study," she said. "There is a lot that can be done just based on what these spouses said and the ideas they provided. It would make a huge, huge difference."

More information

For more about breast cancer, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.


SOURCE: University of Alberta, news release, July 31, 2012

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