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Toward an Understanding of Patients’ and Their Partners’ Experiences of Bladder Cancer

Heyes, Susan M., PhD, RN; Prior, Kirsty N., PhD; Whitehead, Dean, PhD, MSc, RN, FCNA; Bond, Malcolm J., PhD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000718
Article: PDF Only

Background Bladder cancer is characterized by recurrence and progression, ongoing surveillance and treatment, adverse effects, and complications and is associated with chronic ill health that may compromise relationships, social activities, and employment.

Objective The aim of this study was to gain an understanding of quality of life disruptions among both those diagnosed with bladder cancer and their supportive partners (spouses or other family members).

Interventions/Methods Couples were recruited from a tertiary care public hospital database. Nine heterosexual couples (married/de facto) and another comprising a clinical participant and her daughter-in-law were interviewed for approximately 60 minutes. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed, with qualitative description used to gain an in-depth understanding of participants’ experiences without previous agenda or knowledge, allowing their viewpoints to be summarized in everyday terms.

Results Thematic analysis highlighted 4 themes: psychical responses, cognitive and emotional reactions, survival techniques and the importance of partner support and its assistance for clinical participants acceptance of, and adaptation to their bladder cancer, surveillance, and treatment protocols.

Conclusion A key finding was the value of a supportive partner in dealing with the effects of bladder cancer daily. From a health service perspective, the need for clear information provision and counseling/support to assist patient management was also evident.

Implications for Future Practice Health professionals need to appreciate the quality of life implications for patients and partners, thus understanding the needs of couples. Greater collaboration with and by health professionals who assist in care may allow couples to move more confidently toward adaptation to bladder cancer.

Author Affiliations: College of Nursing & Health Sciences (Drs Heyes and Whitehead) and College of Medicine & Public Health (Drs Prior and Bond), Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia.

Correspondence: Susan M. Heyes, PhD, College of Nursing & Health Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, Australia 5001 (

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Accepted for publication February 28, 2019.

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