Purpose/Objectives: To determine (a) if depressive symptoms in partners of long-term breast cancer survivors (BCSs) could be predicted by social cognitive processing theory and (b) if partners of younger and older BCSs were differentially affected by the cancer experience.
Design: A cross-sectional, descriptive study using self-report questionnaires.
Setting: Indiana University in Bloomington and 97 ECOG-ACRIN Cancer Research Group sites in the United States.
Sample: 508 partners of BCSs diagnosed three to eight years prior to the study.
Methods: Secondary data mediation analyses were conducted to determine if cognitive processing mediated the relationship between social constraints and depressive symptoms. Age-related differences on all scales were tested.
Main Research Variables: Depressive symptoms; secondary variables included social constraints, cognitive processing (avoidance and intrusive thoughts), and potentially confounding variables.
Findings: Cognitive processing mediated the relationship between social constraints and depressive symptoms for partners. Partners of younger BCSs reported worse outcomes on all measures than partners of older BCSs.
Conclusions: As predicted by the social cognitive processing theory, cognitive processing mediated the relationship between social constraints and depressive symptoms. In addition, partners of younger BCSs fared worse on social constraints, intrusive thoughts, and depressive symptoms than partners of older BCSs.
Implications for Nursing: Results provide support for using the social cognitive processing theory in an intervention design with partners of long-term BCSs to decrease depressive symptoms.