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Psychooncology. 2008 Feb;17(2):131-7.

Helping Her Heal: a pilot study of an educational counseling intervention for spouses of women with breast cancer.

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  • 1School of Nursing, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


Breast cancer is known to cause substantial anxiety, depressed mood, and diminished marital functioning in the diagnosed woman's spouse. Despite the scope and magnitude of these issues, few intervention studies have included spouses or addressed the causes of their lower functioning. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the short-term impact of a 5-session, clinic-based, educational counseling intervention for spouses whose wife was recently diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. The goals of the intervention were to enhance spouses' skills and confidence to communicate and interpersonally support his wife about the breast cancer as well as improve spouses' self-care, depressed mood, anxiety, and marital adjustment. Pre-post-test results obtained from 20 spouses from valid and reliable standardized questionnaires showed significant improvements in spouses' depressed mood, anxiety, skills, self-confidence, and self-care. Confidential post-intervention interviews with spouses and wives included detailed examples of positive changes in the spouse's communication and support to his wife about the breast cancer, diminished tension in the spouse, and improved quality in the couple's relationship. Further evaluation of the Helping Her Heal Program is warranted within a clinical trial.

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