, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 192-202
Date: 13 Nov 2012

An Electronic Diary Study of the Effects of Patient Avoidance and Partner Social Constraints on Patient Momentary Affect in Metastatic Breast Cancer

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Abstract

Background

Metastatic breast cancer patients experience significance distress. Although talking with close others about cancer-related concerns may help to alleviate distress, patients often avoid such discussions, and their partners can engage in social constraints that may limit subsequent patient disclosures and exacerbate distress.

Purpose

We examined how partner constraints unfold, how they influence patient affect, and whether they exacerbate patient avoidance of cancer-related disclosures.

Methods

Fifty-four patients and 48 of their partners completed electronic diary assessments for 14 days.

Results

Partners’ social constraints carried over from one day to the next, but patients’ avoidance of discussing cancer-related concerns did not. When partners engaged in more social constraints one day, patients reported greater negative affect the following day (p < 0.05).

Conclusion

Findings suggest a temporal link between partner constraints and patient momentary affect. Helping partners to become aware of their constraining behaviors and teaching them skills to overcome this may facilitate patient adjustment to metastatic breast cancer.