Wimberly, S. R., Carver, C. S., Laurenceau, J-P., Harris, S. D., & Antoni, M. H. (2005). Perceived partner reactions to diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer: Impact on psychosocial and psychosexual adjustment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73, 300-311.

Two studies examined breast cancer patients’ perceptions of their partners’ reactions to their diagnosis and treatment as influences on 3 aspects of patients’ well-being: psychosexual adjustment, emotional distress, and marital satisfaction. Study 1, which was cross-sectional, indicated that partner initiation of sex, frequency of sex, a positive first sexual experience after treatment, and especially perception of the partner’s emotional involvement in the relationship, were relevant to these outcomes. Study 2, which was longitudinal, confirmed many of these findings in prospective tests across 1 year of recovery after surgery. Partner involvement prospectively predicted all 3 outcomes. Partner initiation of sex predicted greater marital satisfaction; partner adverse reaction to the scar predicted less marital satisfaction. Rated quality of the first sexual experience after treatment predicted less distress. The pattern suggests that women’s impressions of their partner’s emotional involvement after surgery for breast cancer forecast their adjustment in sexual, marital, and emotional arenas over the following year.

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