Marital Relationships & Coping with Cancer

By Cleveland G. Shields

Child Development and Family Services, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

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Breast cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in women. We conducted a cross sectional study of 77 women and their spouses coping with breast cancer. Both couples completed almost identical surveys. We hypothesized that couples who reported higher levels of criticism and avoidance would report lower levels of marital cohesion. We assessed marital cohesion with the Revised Dyadic Adjust Scale (RDAS). We used the Family Emotional Involvement and Criticism Scale II (FEICS II) to assess perceived criticism and avoidance in the marital relationships. We found that women's marital cohesion was associated with their perception that their husband’s avoid talking with them and with their husband's perception that their wives’ are critical of them. Husbands' marital cohesion was associated only with their only perception of their wives' being critical of them. Future studies need to examine the reciprocal effects of criticism and avoidance by assessing marital partners' perceptions of giving criticism and being avoidant. In addition, interventions should address criticism and avoidance directly to improve the quality of life of breast cancer patients.

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Cleveland G. Shields (2007), "Marital Relationships & Coping with Cancer,"

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  1. cancer
  2. research seminar