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Psychooncology. 2003 Sep;12(6):620-7.

Couples therapy at end of life.

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  • 1University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


This study reports on a preliminary uncontrolled study of a treatment for couples in which one partner is diagnosed with a terminal illness. In this study nine couples, in which one partner was diagnosed with a terminal illness and had less than 18 months to live, were offered eight sessions of couples therapy. Follow-up data were available for six couples. Two patients died during treatment and a third patient moved out of the area prior to completing the follow-up assessment. Significant decreases were seen in the patients' distress about dying and the frequency of partners' worry about their partner dying. Improvements were also seen in relationship quality. While the size of the study precludes generalizing these findings to a larger population, this study supports further exploration of couples therapy as a potentially useful adjunct to end of life care.

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