Purpose: Little is known about the long-term effects of cancer and hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HCT) on spouses or partners. The purpose of this study was to examine the health-related quality of life and post-traumatic growth (PTG) of spouses/partners compared with survivors and controls and to identify factors associated with those outcomes. Patients and Methods: HCT survivor/partner pairs (n = 177), coupled continuously since HCT, were drawn from 40 North American transplantation centers. Married peer-nominated acquaintances (of survivors) served as controls (n = 133). Outcomes were measured a mean of 6.7 years after HCT (range, 1.9 to 19.4 years). Results: As expected, self-reported partner physical health was similar to controls and better than survivors (P < .001). However, partners reported more fatigue and cognitive dysfunction than controls (P < .001 for both), although less than survivors. Partners and survivors reported more depressive symptoms and sleep and sexual problems than controls (P < .001, P < .01, and P < .01, respectively). Odds of partner depression were nearly 3.5 times that of controls (P < .002). Depressed partners were less likely than depressed survivors to receive mental health treatment (P < .04). Partners reported less social support (P < .001), dyadic satisfaction (P < .05), and spiritual well-being (P < .05) and more loneliness (P < .05) than both survivors and controls. In contrast to survivors, partners reported little PTG (P < .001). Factors associated with partner outcomes included partner health problems, coping, female sex, social constraint, survivor depression, optimism, multiple life changes, and social support. Conclusion: Spouses/partners experience similar emotional and greater social long-term costs of cancer and HCT than survivors without the potential compensatory benefits of PTG. Some of the factors associated with partner outcomes are amenable to intervention.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research