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J Sex Marital Ther. 1983 Winter;9(4):266-75.

Postmastectomy couple counseling: an outcome study of a structured treatment protocol.


The evidence suggests that medical treatment of breast cancer produces psychosocial trauma in both the patient and her husband due to the loss of the breast and/or physical disfigurement. This study evaluated the effects of a structured couples treatment program on the psychosocial discomfort following a mastectomy. Twenty couples were randomly assigned to experimental and control conditions and were administered an assessment battery before and after treatment that measured change in marital happiness, sexual satisfaction, depression, self-esteem, helplessness, anxiety, alienation, and emotional discomfort. An analysis of variance yielded no significant difference between experimental and control conditions on any of the dependent variables. A supplemental analysis of covariance using the pretest as a covariate found that the treatment reduced emotional discomfort in both partners, reduced depression in the patient, and increased sexual satisfaction for both spouses. Recommendations were made for further study of the treatment, controlling for the subject's level of distress prior to treatment.

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