Marital adjustment of older adult couples with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and couples without cancer
The purpose of this study was to explore the marital adjustment of older adult couples with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and couples who have experienced neither. Participants were 64 couples in which at least one of the spouses was over 55 years of age, including 19 breast cancer couples, 20 prostate cancer couples, 25 couples who had experienced neither of these cancers. Most participants were young-old, Protestant, Caucasians from a high socioeconomic class. The breast cancer and prostate cancer participants had completed treatment an average of 39.5 months prior to participation. The methodology was a mail survey. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the Marital Satisfaction Questionnaire for Older Adults (MSQFOP) (Haynes et al., 1992), Primary Communication Inventory (PCI) (Navran, 1967), Miller Social Intimacy Scale (MSIS) (Miller & Lefcourt, 1982), and the Index of Sexual Satisfaction (ISS) (Hudson et al., 1981).There were no differences in the amount of discordance between the couples groups' level of marital satisfaction, communication, intimacy, and sexual satisfaction. In addition, there were no differences in the level of marital satisfaction, communication, intimacy, and sexual satisfaction between the participant groups. There was a significantly greater correlation between the prostate cancer couples' scores on the ISS than the correlation between the breast cancer couples' scores and the scores of the couples who had not experienced breast cancer or prostate cancer.The level of marital satisfaction, communication, intimacy, and sexual satisfaction reported was similar to that of the normative samples. There was no difference between the marital adjustment of the cancer couples and older couples who had experienced neither type of cancer. These results are good news for breast and prostate cancer survivors, and professionals. Older adults may be better able to incorporate the experience of cancer into their lives or are better prepared for chronic illness through anticipatory socialization. The high degree of agreement between the prostate cancer spouses on the ISS may be related to the sexual dysfunction that frequently accompanies treatment for this cancer. Future research should be qualitative and longitudinal and continue to explore the psychosocial implications of prostate cancer.