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J Clin Oncol. 2007 Apr 10;25(11):1403-11.

Late effects of cancer and hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation on spouses or partners compared with survivors and survivor-matched controls.

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Department of Medicine, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL 32610-0277, USA.



Little is known about the long-term effects of cancer and hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HCT) on spouses or partners. The purpose of this study was to examine the health-related quality of life and post-traumatic growth (PTG) of spouses/partners compared with survivors and controls and to identify factors associated with those outcomes.


HCT survivor/partner pairs (n = 177), coupled continuously since HCT, were drawn from 40 North American transplantation centers. Married peer-nominated acquaintances (of survivors) served as controls (n = 133). Outcomes were measured a mean of 6.7 years after HCT (range, 1.9 to 19.4 years).


As expected, self-reported partner physical health was similar to controls and better than survivors (P < .001). However, partners reported more fatigue and cognitive dysfunction than controls (P < .001 for both), although less than survivors. Partners and survivors reported more depressive symptoms and sleep and sexual problems than controls (P < .001, P < .01, and P < .01, respectively). Odds of partner depression were nearly 3.5 times that of controls (P < .002). Depressed partners were less likely than depressed survivors to receive mental health treatment (P < .04). Partners reported less social support (P < .001), dyadic satisfaction (P < .05), and spiritual well-being (P < .05) and more loneliness (P < .05) than both survivors and controls. In contrast to survivors, partners reported little PTG (P < .001). Factors associated with partner outcomes included partner health problems, coping, female sex, social constraint, survivor depression, optimism, multiple life changes, and social support.


Spouses/partners experience similar emotional and greater social long-term costs of cancer and HCT than survivors without the potential compensatory benefits of PTG. Some of the factors associated with partner outcomes are amenable to intervention.

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