Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marital Problems Lead To Poorer Outcomes For Breast Cancer Patients

Date:
December 10, 2008
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
Breast cancer patients who have a poor relationship with their spouse may face a more difficult road to recovery than would other women, according to a new study. Researchers found that, over five years, patients in distressed marriages had higher levels of stress, less physical activity, slower recovery and more symptoms and signs of illness than did similar patients who reported good marriages.

Breast cancer patients who have a poor relationship with their spouse may face a more difficult road to recovery than would other women, according to a new study.

Related Articles


Researchers found that, over five years, patients in distressed marriages had higher levels of stress, less physical activity, slower recovery and more symptoms and signs of illness than did similar patients who reported good marriages.

“The quality of the marital relationship may not be the first thing women worry about when they get a cancer diagnosis. But it may have a significant impact on how they cope physically and emotionally,” said Hae-Chung Yang, co-author of the study and research associate in psychology at Ohio State University.

“Our results suggest that the increases in stress and other problems that come with a distressed marital relationship can have real health consequences, and lead to a poorer recovery from cancer.”

Yang noted that the advantages for women with good relationships held true even though the researchers took into account the patients’ depression levels, cancer stage, treatment, and other factors that could have influenced the results.

The study appears online now, and will be published in a future issue of the journal Cancer. Yang conducted the study with Tammy Schuler, a doctoral student at Ohio State.

The study involved 100 women who have participated in the long-running Stress and Immunity Breast Cancer Project at Ohio State. All of the women were married or cohabitating at the time they entered the study and remained so during the five years they were followed.

Participants completed a questionnaire that measured the quality of the relationship they had with their spouse every year for the five-year study period. The majority of participants reported very little change in marital quality over the course of the study and, based on these results, they were split into two groups – those who had a distressed relationship (28 women) and those who did not (72 women).

Participants were regularly measured on levels of cancer-related stress and overall stress, diet, physical activity, general physical functioning, and symptoms and signs of illness.

The results showed that women with good marriages had plenty of advantages, Yang said.

Women in both groups started the study with high and nearly equal levels of cancer-related stress.

“When you’re diagnosed, that’s devastating for everyone, regardless of the quality of your marriage,” Yang said. “But women in good marriages saw steady reductions in their cancer-related stress, while women in distressed marriages had a much slower recovery.”

In terms of overall stress, women in distressed marriages saw levels remain stable over the five years, while those in better relationships experienced a steady decline in stress levels.

Women with strong marriages had better dietary habits than those in distressed relationships, and that continued through the course of the study.

Women in strong marriages also maintained adequate levels of physical activity for a longer period of time compared to the women with distressed relationships, whose physical activity dropped steadily.

As far as overall health performance, women in bad relationships saw a significantly slower recovery than did other women. Distressed women also started with significantly higher levels of symptoms and signs of illness compared to women in good relationships, although they recovered over time to the lower levels experienced by the women with good relationships.

Yang said while other studies have looked at how a cancer diagnosis affected the quality of a marriage relationship, this may be the first study to look at how the marital relationship affects long-term recovery from cancer.

She noted that this study found, as did others, that most women do not see a change in the quality of their marital relationship after a cancer diagnosis.

“Whether you have a good or bad relationship before being diagnosed with cancer, that is not likely to change afterwards,” she said.

But the nature of that marital relationship will have a big impact on recovery from cancer.

“Clearly, marital distress is a risk factor for numerous poorer outcomes and it is never late to work to improve your marriage, not only for your emotional well-being but also for your health,” Yang said.

The study was supported by the American Cancer Society; Longaberger Company-American Cancer Society Grant for Breast Cancer Research; National Institute of Mental Health; U.S. Army Medical Research Institute; the National Cancer Institute; and OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "Marital Problems Lead To Poorer Outcomes For Breast Cancer Patients." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081208123304.htm>.
Ohio State University. (2008, December 10). Marital Problems Lead To Poorer Outcomes For Breast Cancer Patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081208123304.htm
Ohio State University. "Marital Problems Lead To Poorer Outcomes For Breast Cancer Patients." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081208123304.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Are Female Bosses More Likely To Be Depressed?

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A new study links greater authority with increased depressive symptoms among women in the workplace. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Don't Fall For Flu Shot Myths

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Misconceptions abound when it comes to your annual flu shot. Medical experts say most people older than 6 months should get the shot. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins