Exploring a Diffusion of Benefit: Does a Woman With Breast Cancer Derive Benefit From an Intervention Delivered to Her Partner?

Barbara B. Cochrane

Frances Marcus Lewis

Kristin A. Griffith

psychosocial aspects, breast neoplasms, education
ONF 2011, 38(2), 207-214. DOI: 10.1188/11.ONF.207-214

Purpose/Objectives: To provide preliminary data on a diffusion of psychosocial benefit to women diagnosed with breast cancer when only their partners receive a psychoeducational intervention focused on the breast cancer experience.

Design: Single-group, pretest/post-test pilot study; participants served as their own controls.

Setting: Communities in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States.

Sample: 9 women with a first diagnosis of breast cancer within the previous six months whose partners received the Helping Her Heal intervention.

Methods: Data were collected from women pre- and postintervention via standardized questionnaires with established reliability and validity. Confidential exit interviews were conducted after postintervention data were returned.

Main Research Variables: State anxiety (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory Form Y [STAI-Y]), depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression scale [CES-D]), and marital quality (Dyadic Adjustment Scale [DAS]; Mutuality and Interpersonal Sensitivity scale).

Findings: Wilcoxon signed-rank tests showed significant improvements on the CES-D (p = 0.01), STAI-Y (p = 0.01), and DAS affectional expression subscale (p = 0.03) in women from pre- to postintervention. Review of exit interview transcripts indicated that women generally were positive about the impact of the program and viewed their partners' gains in communication skills as the greatest benefit of participating.

Conclusions: This study offers preliminary support for a diffusion of psychosocial benefit to women with breast cancer when a psychoeducational intervention is delivered to their partners.

Implications for Nursing: Diffusion of benefit should be examined in a large, randomized, clinical trial to provide evidence for focusing some clinical efforts on partners alone, rather than adding to diagnosed women's burden of multiple clinical encounters.

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