The objectives of this study were 1) to assess similarities and differences between patients with breast cancer and their spouses
in terms of coping strategies and adjustment (psychosocial and psychological) to cancer and 2) to investigate the pattern of relationships between the patients’ and spouses
’ coping strategies and between each of these strategies and the patient’s adjustment to the illness using three types of models: patient, spousal, and dyadic coping.
Seventy-three patients with breast cancer and their spouses
completed questionnaires that measured distress (Brief Symptom Inventory), psychosocial adjustment, and coping strategies.
The patients’ distress was greater than their spouses
’, but a similar level of psychosocial adjustment was reported. The patients used more strategies involving problem-focused coping than their spouses
. The use of emotion-focused coping, which included ventilation and avoidance strategies, was highly related to distress and poor adjustment on the part of the patient. The spouses
’ emotion-focused coping and distress were related to that of the patients. Dyad emotion-focused coping measures were highly associated with the patients’ distress and adjustment.
Spousal and dyad coping are important factors in a patient’s adjustment to breast cancer.