Why unsupportive spouses promote stress in cancer patients
The relationships between cancer patients and their spouses are important. They play an important role in determining how well cancer patients adjust to the disease. When the spouse of a cancer patient engages in unsupportive behaviors, the patient experiences increased stress. Researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center and Research Analysis and Consultation recently reported the findings from a study aimed at finding out why.What was the research about?
The participants in the study were 191 married cancer patients. They responded to questionnaires measuring the extent to which they perceived negative spousal behaviors, felt in control over their emotions and the course of the disease, used an avoidant style of coping (i.e., trying not to think about it and trying to avoid reminders of it), felt able to cope, and experienced stress.
The results showed that the using an avoidant style of coping and feeling unable to cope were two reasons why unsupportive spouses promoted stress in cancer patients.Why should it matter to me?
First, people who are married to someone with cancer should try to be supportive. Second, cancer patients with unsupportive spouses should not use avoidant coping styles and should try to be more confident in their ability to cope. One option, for example, would be to learn more effective coping styles that they can be more confident in, such as finding social support from other sources like other family members, close friends, and support groups.Source: Manne, S., & Glassman, M. (2000). Perceived control, coping efficacy, and avoidance coping as mediators between spouses' unsupportive behaviors and cancer patients' psychological distress. Health Psychology, 29, 155-164.