Do couple-based interventions make a difference for couples affected by cancer? A systematic review.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: With the growing recognition that patients and partners react to a cancer diagnosis as an interdependent system and increasing evidence that psychosocial interventions can be beneficial to both patients and partners, there has been a recent increase in the attention given to interventions that target couples. The aim of this systematic review was to identify existing couple-based interventions for patients with cancer and their partners and explore the efficacy of these interventions (including whether there is added value to target the couple versus individuals), the content and delivery of couple-based interventions, and to identify the key elements of couple-based interventions that promote improvement in adjustment to cancer diagnosis. METHOD: A systematic review of the cancer literature was performed to identify experimental and quasi-experimental couple-based interventions published between 1990 and 2011. To be considered for this review, studies had to test the efficacy of a psychosocial intervention for couples affected by cancer. Studies were excluded if they were published in a language other than English or French, focused on pharmacological, exercise, or dietary components combined with psychosocial components, or did not assess the impact of the intervention on psychological distress (e.g., depression, anxiety) or quality of life. Data were extracted using a standardised data collection form, and were analysed independently by three reviewers. RESULTS: Of the 709 articles screened, 23 were included in this review. Couple-based interventions were most efficacious in improving couple communication, psychological distress, and relationship functioning. Interventions had a limited impact on physical distress and social adjustment. Most interventions focused on improving communication and increasing understanding of the cancer diagnosis within couples. Interventions were most often delivered by masters-level nurses or clinical psychologists. Although most were delivered in person, few were telephone-based. No difference in efficacy was noted based on mode of delivery. Factors associated with uptake and completion included symptom severity, available time and willingness to travel. CONCLUSION: Given effect sizes of couple-based interventions are similar to those reported in recent meta-analyses of patient-only and caregiver-only interventions (~d=.35-.45), it appears couple-based interventions for patients with cancer and their partners may be at least as efficacious as patient-only and caregiver-only interventions. Despite evidence that couple-based interventions enhance psycho-social adjustment for both patients and partners, these interventions have not yet been widely adopted. Although more work is needed to facilitate translation to routine practice, evidence reviewed is promising in reducing distress and improving coping and adjustment to a cancer diagnosis or to cancer symptoms.
Project description:There is evidence that both breast cancer patients and their partners are affected emotionally, when facing a breast cancer diagnosis. Several couple interventions have been evaluated, but there is a need for couple intervention studies with a clear theoretical basis and a strong design. The Hand in Hand intervention is designed to enhance interdependent coping in the couples and to address patients and partners that are both initially distressed and non-distressed.The Hand in Hand study is a randomised controlled trial among 199 breast cancer patients and their partners. Couples were randomised to 4-8 couple sessions with a psychologist in addition to usual care, or to usual care only, approximately 2 months after the patients' primary surgery date. The intervention was delivered within 3 months, and outcomes were assessed prior to randomisation and 5 and 10 months after primary surgery date. The primary outcome is patients' cancer-specific distress at the 5-month follow-up measured by the Impact of Event Scale. Secondary outcomes are assessed for both breast cancer patients and partners. These outcomes are: general distress, symptoms of anxiety and depression, health-related quality of life and measures of dyadic adjustment, intimacy and partner involvement. Cancer-specific distress is also assessed for partners. Eligible patients were women???18 years newly diagnosed with primary breast cancer, cohabiting with a male partner, having no previous cancer diagnoses, receiving no neo-adjuvant treatment, having no history of hospitalisation due to psychosis, and able to read and speak Danish. Partners were eligible if they could read and speak Danish and were???18 years.This study investigates the effect of an attachment-oriented psychological intervention for breast cancer patients and their partners. The intervention has a theoretical framework and a strong design. If proven effective, this intervention would be helpful in optimising psychosocial care and rehabilitation of couples coping with breast cancer.ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01368380.
Project description:Young breast cancer survivors (aged 50 years and under) and their partners are at an elevated risk for relationship distress and poor psychological adjustment relative to older age couples. Limited availability of time and resources and the distance to travel are major barriers to engaging in evidence-based psychosocial support programs. This paper describes the study protocol of a novel, manualized online intervention called Couplelinks that was developed to improve relationship adjustment and psychological wellbeing of young couples affected by breast cancer. Couplelinks is a custom-designed website offering a professionally facilitated, couple-centered intervention that entails informational, experiential, and interactive components.A total of 80 heterosexual couples from across Canada in which the female partner has been diagnosed with a primary breast cancer will be recruited and randomized to a treatment or waitlist control group. Six dyadic learning modules form the core of the program and will be undertaken on a weekly basis. The manualized online intervention involves psycho-education and experiential exercises to enhance communication, coping ability, mutual empathy, and perspective-taking in relation to cancer. An online facilitator who is a trained mental health professional will guide and support couples throughout the process. Data collection will occur at baseline, at post-treatment or eight weeks into the waiting period, and at the three-month follow-up assessment. Primary outcome measures include the Revised Dyadic Adjustment Survey (RDAS) and Dyadic Coping Inventory (DCI) scores, and secondary outcome measures include the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Survey (HADS) score.Couplelinks is one of the first internet-based psychological interventions to improve the psychosocial adjustment of couples coping with a life-threatening illness such as cancer. If successful, the design of this program as described in this paper makes a valuable contribution to the literature on the delivery of couple-focused psychosocial interventions, both within and outside of oncology.This trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (identifier: NCT01089764 ) on 17 March 2010.
Project description:Patients and partners both cope individually and as a dyad with challenges related to a breast cancer diagnosis. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of a psychological attachment-oriented couple intervention for breast cancer patients and partners in the early treatment phase.A randomised controlled trial including 198 recently diagnosed breast cancer patients and their partners. Couples were randomised to the Hand in Hand (HiH) intervention in addition to usual care or to usual care only. Self-report assessments were conducted for both patients and partners at baseline, postintervention (5 months), and follow-up (10 months), assessing cancer-related distress, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and dyadic adjustment. Patients' cancer-related distress was the primary outcome.Cancer-related distress decreased over time in both patients and partners, but the intervention did not significantly affect this decrease at postintervention (P = .08) or follow-up (P = .71). A significant positive effect was found on dyadic adjustment at follow-up for both patients (P = .04) and partners (P = .02).There was no significant effect of the HiH intervention cancer-related distress. The results suggest that most couples can cope with cancer-related distress in the context of usual care. However, the positive effect on dyadic adjustment implies that the HiH intervention benefitted both patients and partners. Future studies should investigate how to integrate a couple focus in usual cancer care to improve dyadic coping in the early treatment phase.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Follow-up studies suggest that the psychosocial impact of pediatric cancer on parents often extends beyond the end of their child's cancer treatments, and parents can continue to experience both individual and relationship effects. In a long-term study of parents of children who were treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), we aimed to: 1) describe parents' adjustment (psychological distress, relationship satisfaction; 2) describe the perceived impact of cancer on couples' relationship, and; 3) identify to what extent the perceived impact of cancer on the couple is related to both parents' long-term adjustment. METHODS:Parents of childhood ALL survivors (n = 103 couples) were surveyed as part of a cohort recall (PETALE cohort). Both parents completed questionnaires exploring adjustment (Brief Symptom Inventory-18, Dyadic Adjustment Scale) and perceived impact of cancer on the relationship (Impact of Cancer on the Couple). Mothers' and fathers' scores were compared using MANOVAs. We also examined the degree to which a parent's perceived changes in relationship dynamics following their child's cancer were associated with their own current adjustment (actor effects), and their partner's current adjustment (partner effects) using the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM). RESULTS:Frequencies of current distress were normative in parents (mothers/fathers): general distress (6.8/7.8%), anxiety (5.8/6.8%), depression (2.9/6.8%), somatization (13.6/9.7%), and relationship distress (21.4/20.4%). Mothers and fathers typically agreed on their reported relationship satisfaction, and the perceived nature of relationship changes following the illness. Dyadic analyses indicated that whereas mothers' adjustment was related to their own perceived relationship changes, fathers' adjustment was primarily related to their partner's perceptions. CONCLUSION:In long-term stable couples, mothers may act as an influential bridge connecting the illness experiences of survivors and fathers. This could explain why mothers' perceptions of relationship changes were related to their partners' long-term adjustment, which was not the case for fathers.
Project description:Background:Given the generally incurable nature of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (mNSCLC), patients and their romantic partners are at risk for existential/spiritual distress. Although a handful of dyadic psychosocial interventions for lung cancer patients and their caregivers exist, none of them target spiritual well-being. Informed by the mindfulness-based intervention literature and our pilot work in couples affected by lung cancer, we developed a brief couple-based mind-body (CBMB) intervention. The primary aim of this research protocol is to determine the feasibility of implementing the CBMB intervention versus an active control (AC) or wait list control (WLC) group in patients with mNSCLC and their partners using a randomized controlled trial design. Methods:Seventy-five patients with mNSCLC receiving treatment and their partners are randomized to the CBMB intervention, an AC or a WLC group. Those in the CBMB intervention and AC groups receive four intervention sessions of 60 min each over 4 weeks and complete weekly homework assignments. The first session is delivered in person, and the remaining sessions are delivered via videoconference. The dyads in the AC group discuss cancer-related and personal growth concerns with the interventionist but are not taught coping skills. Patients and partners in all groups complete baseline assessments of quality of life (QOL) prior to randomization. Follow-up assessments are performed 4 weeks and then again 3 months later. The primary outcome is feasibility (i.e., ≥ 30% of eligible couples consent, ≥ 70% of enrolled couples are retained, and ≥ 50% of all CBMB and AC sessions are attended). We will also perform primarily descriptive analyses of the self-reported outcomes (e.g., spiritual well-being and psychological distress) and explore potential intervention mediators (i.e., compassion, communication, mindfulness, and closeness) to inform a larger, future trial. Discussion:This trial will provide important information regarding the feasibility of a behavioral intervention in a vulnerable yet understudied population using videoconferencing and descriptive data regarding spiritual well-being and other indices of QOL in both mNSCLC patients and their partners. Trial registration:ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02596490.
Project description:The purpose was to test the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of a 4-session couple-based Intimacy Enhancement (IE) intervention addressing breast cancer survivors' sexual concerns delivered via telephone. Twenty-nine post-treatment breast cancer survivors reporting sexual concerns and their intimate partners were randomized (2:1) to the IE intervention or to an educational control condition, both of which were delivered by trained psychosocial providers. Feasibility and acceptability were measured through recruitment, retention, session completion, and post-intervention program evaluations. Couples completed validated sexual, relationship, and psychosocial outcome measures at pre- and post-intervention. Between-group effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using the Hedges g. Data supported intervention feasibility and acceptability. For survivors, the IE intervention had medium to large positive effects on all sexual outcomes and most psychosocial outcomes. Effects were less visible for relationship outcomes and were similar but somewhat smaller for partners. The IE intervention demonstrated feasibility, acceptability, and promise in addressing breast cancer survivors' sexual concerns and enhancing their and their partners' intimate relationships and psychosocial well-being. Implications for Psychosocial Oncology Practice The IE intervention demonstrated feasibility and acceptability, suggesting it could be well-received by breast cancer survivors with sexual concerns and their partners. Effects of the IE intervention on breast cancer survivors' sexual concerns and on their and their partners' intimate relationships and psychosocial well-being could not be attributed to therapist time and attention. Interventions that psychosocial providers can use to address breast cancer survivors' sexual concerns are important to the growing number of breast cancer survivors living for many years after their diagnosis.
Project description:OBJECTIVES:Cardiovascular disease (CVD) not only affects the patient, but has implications for the partner. Emerging evidence suggests that supportive couple relationships enhance CVD outcomes and reduce patient and partner distress. To date, however, little research has been done to address the couple relationship as a potentially important component of cardiac care. This article examines the impact of CVD on the couple relationship and assesses the perceived needs and desired intervention components of patients with CVD and their partners. DESIGN:Qualitative study using directed and conventional content analysis. SETTING:Single-centre, tertiary cardiac care hospital that serves a population of 1.4?million in the Champlain region of Ontario, Canada. PARTICIPANTS:Patients with CVD and their partners (n=32, 16 couples) participated in focus groups. Patients were mainly male (75%), white (87.5%), aged 64.4 years (range 31-81 years), with varied cardiac diagnoses (50% coronary artery disease; 18.75% valve disease; 18.75% heart failure; 12.5% arrhythmia). RESULTS:Five categories were generated from the data reflecting changes within the couple relationship as a result of CVD: (1) emotional and communication disconnection; (2) overprotection of the patient; (3) role changes; (4) adjustment to lifestyle changes; and (5) positive relationship changes. Three categories were constructed regarding intervention needs and desired resources: (1) practical resources; (2) sharing with peers; and (3) relationship enhancement. CONCLUSIONS:Overall, the data suggest that there were profound changes in the couple relationship as a result of CVD, and that there is considerable need to better support the caregiving spouses and the couple as a unit. These results call for interventions designed to provide instrumental support, peer-sharing opportunities and relationship quality enhancement to help couples cope with CVD. Future studies should examine whether couples-based programming embedded into cardiac rehabilitation can be effective at improving relationship quality and reducing patient and partner stress in the aftermath of a cardiac event.
Project description:Objective: Pediatric cancer is a life-threatening disease that poses significant challenges to the ill child and his/her parents. Among the studies investigating risk and protective factors for the individual and relationship adjustment of parents being confronted with pediatric cancer, couple factors - such as dyadic coping - gained little research attention. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to explore the association between dyadic coping and individual/relationship outcomes of parents in the context of pediatric cancer. Methods: Participants were 59 couples of children diagnosed with leukemia or Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Time since diagnosis varied from diagnosis to 20 months. Both parents completed the DCI-short, DASS21, PIP, and MMQ. Results: Positive dyadic coping (i.e., supportive and common dyadic coping) and negative dyadic coping proved to be related to individual and relational outcomes of parents facing cancer in their child. In addition, while men and women reported to be equally satisfied with their partner and their sexual relationship, women reported higher levels of individual maladjustment. Conclusion: Our findings led to the conclusion that dyadic coping is important for both individual as well as relationship outcomes of parents when facing a diagnosis of cancer in their child. When meeting with families, both partners should be invited as a unit in order to best capture couple level experiences. Also, clinicians should be sensitive to relational and sexual issues besides individual issues, taking into account evidence-based standards for psychosocial care in pediatric oncology.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Sexual concerns are distressing for breast cancer survivors and interfere with their intimate relationships. This study evaluates the efficacy of a four-session couple-based intervention delivered via telephone, called Intimacy Enhancement (IE). The IE intervention is grounded in social cognitive theory and integrates evidence-based techniques from cognitive behavioral couple therapy and sex therapy to address survivors' sexual concerns and enhance their and their partners' sexual, relationship, and psychological outcomes. METHODS:This trial is designed to evaluate the efficacy of the IE intervention in improving survivors' sexual function, the primary study outcome. Secondary outcomes include survivors' sexual distress, partners' sexual function, and survivors' and partners' relationship intimacy and quality as well as psychological distress (depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms). Additional aims are to examine whether treatment effects on patient sexual function are mediated by sexual communication and self-efficacy for coping with sexual concerns and to explore whether survivor age and race/ethnicity moderate intervention effects on survivors' sexual function. Eligible adult female breast cancer survivors reporting sexual concerns and their intimate partners are recruited from two academic sites in the USA and are randomized to either the IE intervention or to a control condition of equal length offering education and support around breast cancer-related health topics (Living Healthy Together). The target sample size is 120 couples. Self-report outcome measures are administered to participants in both conditions at baseline (T1), post-treatment (T2), 3 months post-treatment (T3), and 6 months post-treatment (T4). DISCUSSION:Evidence-based interventions are needed to address sexual concerns for breast cancer survivors and to enhance their and their intimate partners' sexual, relationship, and psychological well-being. This randomized controlled trial will allow us to examine the efficacy of a novel couple-based intervention delivered via telephone for breast cancer survivors experiencing sexual concerns and their intimate partners, in comparison with an attention control. Findings of this study could influence clinical care for women with breast cancer and inform theory guiding cancer-related sexual rehabilitation. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03930797. Registered on 24 April 2019.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) studies report that marital/family support relates to glycemic control, adherence and quality-of-life. Yet, there are few reports of couples-focused interventions. PURPOSE: To describe the challenges faced and lessons learned in the implementation of a theoretically-based, couples intervention. METHODS: 350 couples (one partner has T2DM in poor glycemic control) are randomized to a couples intervention, individual intervention, or enhanced usual care. All contacts are by telephone, to increase reach. OUTCOMES: medical (e.g. glycemic control), psychosocial (e.g. diabetes distress), and behavioral (e.g. regimen adherence). Challenges in recruitment, assessment and intervention with couples are described, with suggestions about how to address them. RESULTS: Findings concerning the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the couples intervention, its effect on partners, and possible mechanisms of demonstrated changes, are anticipated in 2013. CONCLUSIONS: Interventionists need specific skills to work with couples to promote communal coping and increase the likelihood of an efficacious couples intervention.