Men's adjustment to their partners' breast cancer: a dyadic coping perspective

Barry N. Feldman, University of Massachusetts Medical School
C. Anne Broussard, University of New Hampshire

At the time of publication, Barry Feldman was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


The continuing increase in cancer rates among women in the United States is forcing more men to experience the impact of breast cancer on their relationships. Using 71 male partners of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, this study assessed how dyadic coping strategies affected men's adjustment to their partners' illness. While their partners were undergoing treatment, participants completed standardized instruments that measured emotional well-being, illness intrusiveness, and dyadic coping styles. Regression analysis revealed significant associations between coping styles and illness intrusiveness. In addition, depression predisposed men to poorer adjustment and affected their coping patterns. The findings emphasize that social workers must work with patients and partners to develop positive couple coping strategies. Practice implications for social workers are addressed.