What matters most to breast cancer patients and partners during treatment

Anne Nicolaisen, Dorte Gilså Hansen, Christoffer Johansen, Per Nielsen, Henrik E Flyger, Mariët Hagedoorn

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


Background: Most breast cancer patients´ partners that are the primary source of practical and emotional support. However, partners often find it challenging how to offer support, and cope with their own emotional concerns and challenges. This study investigated the expressed needs of patients and partners and provide general practitioners (GP) knowledge of how to address patients and partners as individuals and as couples.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial including 198 recently diagnosed breast cancer patients and their partners randomly tested a psychological intervention in addition to usual care. The intervention consisted of 4-8 couple sessions with a clinical psychologist up to 5 months after primary surgery. The psychologists had a list of issues to address in the couple sessions, but the content of each session should be guided of what the couple found relevant. Psychologist recorded the content of each session on a tick-off list.

Results: In total, 356 couple sessions were conducted. The primary issues addressed in the couple sessions were issues related to breast cancer (n=268) and the couple´s communication(n=258), followed by issues related to primary emotions (fear, anger, happiness, and sadness) (n=230).

Conclusion: Breast cancer and communication in the couple is almost equally important emphasizing the importance of a couple perspective in general practice. When identifying needs of cancer patients and their partners, GPs should not only ask: ”Do you have someone to support you”, but also ”How do you communicate with your primary source of support” and use the possibility of referral to psychological couple therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event21st Nordic Congress of General Practice 2019 - NCGP, Ålborg, Denmark
Duration: 17. Jun 201920. Jun 2019


Conference21st Nordic Congress of General Practice 2019

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