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27-12-2011 | Psychology | Article

Ovarian cancer impacts on spousal spiritual well-being


Free abstract

MedWire News: The long-term impact of ovarian cancer on quality of life (QoL) and spiritual well-being (SWB) is greater amongthe spouses of patients than the patients themselves, suggests research published in the Journal of Supportive Oncology.

Marlene Frost (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA) and co-workers conducted a 3-year study of 70 patients (mean age 61.9 years) with a recent diagnosis of advanced ovarian, primary peritoneal, or fallopian tube cancer,and 26 spouses (mean age 65.6 years).

The participants were asked to complete QoL and SWB questionnaires after surgery and again 3, 7, 12, 17, 24, and 36 months later.Both patients and spouses completed the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT)-Spiritual Well-Being-Expanded Version, and the Symptom Distress Scale, and were asked open-ended questions about changes in their lives. In addition, patients completed the FACIT questionnaire specific to ovarian cancer, and spouses completed the Caregiver Burden Interview and Linear Analog Self-Assessment scales for QoL.

The research showed that ovarian cancer patients had a high level of SWB over time, and their SWB levels were significantly higher than their spouses 1 and 3 years after surgery. Both patients and their spouses experienced insomnia, fatigue and worry, with the only significant difference between the groups being greater insomnia at 3 months in the patients.

Emotional WB, a measure of worry, sadness, hope, anxiety, and perceived coping, was compromised at baseline and after 12-24 months in the women, but only became substantially so in their spouses by the third year.

Of concern, whereas the spouses experienced physical and social WB deficits across the study, the patients' social WB scores were high throughout and physical WB was compromised only in the first year after surgery.

The spouses' scores on the Caregiver Burden Interview indicated that burden and person strain were not a significant issue, possibly due to the patients having a good physical and functional status.

"SWB should not be considered a static concept, and differences based on sex and caregiving role need to be considered," Frost et al conclude.

"The wellbeing of spouses needs to be assessed and considered in the care of women with ovarian cancer. The patient and family continue to be the unit of care."

By Lynda Williams

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