Couple-based communication intervention for head and neck cancer: a randomized pilot trial

Tina M. Gremore*, Bruce Brockstein, Laura S. Porter, Stephanie Brenner, Tiffany Benfield, Donald H. Baucom, Tamara Golden Sher, David Atkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: To test feasibility and preliminary efficacy of a couple-based supportive communication (CSC) intervention for head and neck cancer (HNC) delivered during patients’ oncology treatment. Methods: Twenty couples were randomly assigned to either a four-session CSC or a treatment-as-usual (TAU) condition. The CSC intervention primarily focused on increasing couple emotional disclosure, supportive listening, and social support. Patients and partners completed measures of individual and relationship functioning at baseline, post-intervention, and 6-month follow-up. Results: Ninety-eight percent of CSC sessions were completed and couples reported high levels of satisfaction with the intervention. Between-group effect sizes indicated that patients and partners in CSC reported improvements in individual and relationship functioning, relative to those in the TAU condition. Conclusions: A couple-based communication intervention delivered during oncology treatment is feasible and acceptable in the context of HNC and may lead to improvements in individual and relationship functioning. Preliminary efficacy results are interpreted in the context of social-cognitive processing and intimacy theories. Trial registration: The trial was registered on (NCT01785576) first posted on February 7, 2013.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3267-3275
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Couple-based communication
  • Emotional disclosure
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Intimacy theory
  • Oncology
  • Psychosocial intervention
  • Social-cognitive processing theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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