McCorkle, R., Siefert, M.L., Dowd, M.F., Robinson, J.P., & Pickett, M. (2007). Effects of advanced practice nursing on patient and spouse depressive symptoms, sexual function, and marital interaction after radical prostatectomy. Urologic Nursing, 27, 65–77; discussion 78–80.
To determine the effect of a standardized nursing intervention on protocol (SNIP) on newly diagnosed men and their female spouses on marital interaction, sexual function, and depressive symptoms following radical prostatectomy over a six-month period
Couples were randomly assigned to an intervention (SNIP) or a usual care group. The usual care group received care according to standards identified by the urology clinic group, and the SNIP group dyads received 16 contacts (twice per week: home visit and telephone call) from an advanced practice nurse (APN) specially trained for the study to deliver an evidence-based protocol. Dyad conversations with APNs evolved from reading of a common public education booklet given to couples during the SNIP intervention. Measurement of outcome variables (depression, marital interaction, and sexual function) occurred in both the usual and intervention groups at baseline and one, three, and six months following radical prostatectomy.
The study design was secondary data analysis of a prospective, randomized clinical trial with repeated measures.
Analysis of variance procedures indicated that among patients, outcome measures showed no indication of main effects due to group assignment. However, spouses had significant differences for some of the measures at six months, with the SNIP group spouses having higher depression scores that approached significance. The SNIP spouses also had a higher average sexual function distress score and a significantly higher marital interaction distress score than did the control group spouses. Spouses reported significantly higher levels of depressive symptoms and more marital interaction distress as compared to patients. However, patients reported significantly more sexual function distress than did their spouses. The SNIP intervention had no group effect on depressive symptoms, but such symptoms improved over time in both patients and spouses. The SNIP intervention showed a modest effect on patients’ sexual function and marital interaction over time, with SNIP patients and spouses reporting increased distress. However, control group women reported significantly lower rates of sexual functioning distress over time compared to the SNIP group. Pearson correlations showed patient depressive symptoms related to patient marital interaction, spousal depressive symptoms, and spousal marital interactions.
An intervention such as SNIP can effectively address depressive symptoms of newly diagnosed patients with prostatectomy and their spouses, as well as relevant issues such as patient sexual function and marital interaction that change with radical prostatectomy. A trained nurse, delivering an evidence-based intervention focused on the needs of these dyads, can assist them in understanding expected postsurgical changes and implementing actions to foster hope and recovery within the dyad.
Nurses should routinely assess depressive symptoms of patients and their primary support system to define needed interventions during cancer treatment. Patient and spouse (caregiver) teaching about common side effects of cancer treatment, ways of responding to those side effects, and the potential for recovery of earlier functions should be included at each patient encounter. Support groups for both patients and caregivers may further bolster networking with others who have “moved beyond” the early consequences of prostate surgery and offer hope to recent surgical patients and their spouses. An evidence-based intervention delivered by APNs, such as the one used in this study, offers structure and process of care to promote quality care of those individuals.