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J Clin Oncol. 2008 Mar 10;26(8):1289-95. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2007.12.7159.

Predictors of depressed mood in spouses of women with breast cancer.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington, Box 357262, Seattle, WA 98195-7262, USA.



Depressed mood in spouses of women with breast cancer deleteriously affects their own and their wife's functioning and their marital communication. However, no study has examined why some spouses get depressed whereas others do not, particularly during the first months of diagnosis and treatment, a known difficult time for couples. The current study has two purposes: to test a predictive model of spouses' depressed mood and to evaluate the model's accuracy in distinguishing between normal and clinically depressed spouses.


Data were obtained from standardized questionnaires completed by 206 spouses and 206 wives recently diagnosed with nonmetastatic breast cancer. Spouses' depressed mood was measured by the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale. A total of 19 variables were extracted from the literature for testing in the model, including psychological, social, demographic, and disease- and treatment-related variables.


Spouses were more likely to be depressed if they were older, less well educated, more recently married, reported heightened fears over their wife's well-being, worried about their job performance, were more uncertain about their future, or were in less well-adjusted marriages. The model correctly classified 89.2% of spouses' mood (chi(2) = 79.1; P < .001).


Spouses of women with local or regional breast cancer need to be screened for depressed mood and triaged into supportive services to better assist them manage the threat of their wife's breast cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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