Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 1089–1097 | Cite as

“…It might not have occurred to my husband that this woman, his wife who is taking care of him has some emotional needs as well…”: the unheard voices of partners of Black African and Black Caribbean men with prostate cancer

  • O. BamideleEmail author
  • B. M. Lagan
  • H. McGarvey
  • D. Wittmann
  • E. McCaughan
Original Article



Evidence suggests that partners of men with prostate cancer (CaP) experience greater psychosocial distress compared with men themselves. However, the experiences of partners of high-risk (1 in 4) Black African (BA) and Black Caribbean (BC) men with CaP remain poorly understood as existing research has predominantly focused on Caucasian populations. This study aimed to address this gap by exploring partners’ experience and support needs as influenced both by the specific impacts of CaP, treatment side effects and socio-cultural context.


Using a constructivist grounded theory approach, eight face-to-face, two Skype and one telephone interviews were conducted with eligible partners (n = 11). The interviews were analysed using constant comparison following key stages of open, focused and theoretical coding.


Three broad categories emerged which described participants’ experiences: ‘partner in the passenger seat’, ‘care-giving on an isolating journey’, and ‘coping as a partner’. Findings showed that BA and BC cultural marital context influenced how partners experienced and traversed the CaP journey. Peripheral involvement in decision-making, communication restrictions, limited access to support and lack of recognition for their experiences and needs further contributed to partners’ psychological and emotional distress.


Cultural beliefs, behaviours and values should be taken into account when developing psychosocial support for partners and their men with CaP. Specifically providing information focused on partners and including them in the CaP care pathway could help ensure that partners’ needs are recognised and improve marital communications. This could potentially help partners and their men to identify acceptable ways of supporting each other throughout the CaP experience.


Prostate cancer Black African Black Caribbean Partners Wives Experience Grounded theory 



The authors would like to thank the healthcare professionals and their respective NHS hospital trusts for assisting with recruiting patients for the study. We also thank all the men who enabled access to their partners to participate in this study. Finally, our gratitude goes to all the women who consented to participate in this study and made the research worthwhile.

Funding information

The study was funded by an Ulster University Vice-Chancellor’s Research Scholarship to the first author (Olufikayo Bamidele) for her PhD.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical statement

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. 1.
    Jones AL, Chinegwundoh F (2014) Update on prostate cancer in black men within the UK. Ecancermedicalscience 8:455–455Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Prostate Cancer UK (2014) Remember, remember: four things all black men should know about prostate cancer. Prostate Cancer UK. Accessed 20 April 2018
  3. 3.
    Nelson CJ, Kenowitz J (2013) Communication and intimacy-enhancing interventions for men diagnosed with prostate cancer and their partners. J Sex Med 10:127–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    McCaughan E, McKenna S, McSorley O, Parahoo K (2015) The experience and perceptions of men with prostate cancer and their partners of the CONNECT psychosocial intervention: a qualitative exploration. J Adv Nurs 71:1871–1882CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Wittmann D, Carolan M, Given B, Skolarus TA, Crossley H, An L, Palapattu G, Clark P, Montie JE (2015) What couples say about their recovery of sexual intimacy after prostatectomy: toward the development of a conceptual model of couples' sexual recovery after surgery for prostate cancer. J Sex Med 12:494–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Wittmann D, Carolan M, Given B, Skolarus TA, An L, Palapattu G, Montie JE (2014) Exploring the role of the partner in couples’ sexual recovery after surgery for prostate cancer. Support Care Cancer 22:2509–2515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pinks D, Davis C, Pinks C (2018) Experiences of partners of prostate cancer survivors: a qualitative study. J Psychosoc Oncol 36:49–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Rivers BM, August EM, Gwede CK, Hart AJ, Donovan KA, Pow-Sang JM, Quinn GP (2011) Psychosocial issues related to sexual functioning among African-American prostate cancer survivors and their spouses. Psycho-Oncology 20(1):106–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Rivers BM, August EM, Quinn GP, Gwede CK, Pow-Sang JM, Green BL, Jacobsen PB (2012) Understanding the psychosocial issues of African American couples surviving prostate cancer. J Cancer Educ 27:546–558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Wootten AC, Abbott JM, Osborne D, Austin DW, Klein B, Costello AJ, Murphy DG (2014) The impact of prostate cancer on partners: a qualitative exploration. Psycho-Oncology 23:1252–1258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Arugu LO (2014) Social indicators and effects of marriage divorce in African societies. Bus Manag Rev 4:374Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Mulugeta B (2014) The influence of culture on the views of black African/African-Caribbean men living in the UK towards Cancer. Doctoral thesis, University of Central LancashireGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Bamidele O, McGarvey H, Lagan B, Ali N, Chinegwundoh F, Parahoo K, McCaughan E (2017) Life after prostate cancer: a systematic literature review and thematic synthesis of the post-treatment experiences of black African and black Caribbean men. Eur J Cancer Care.
  14. 14.
    Charmaz K (2014) Constructing grounded theory, 2nd edn. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Mulugeta B, Williamson S, Monks R, Hack T, Beaver K (2017) Cancer through black eyes-the views of UK based black men towards cancer: a constructivist grounded theory study. Eur J Oncol Nurs 29:8–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Tong A, Sainsbury P, Craig J (2007) Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): a 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups. Int J Qual Health Care 19(6):349–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    NVivo Qualitative Data Analysis Software (2018). QSR International Ltd Version 11Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Noble H, Smith J (2015) Issues of validity and reliability in qualitative research. Evidence-Based Nursing 18:34–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Coomarsingh K (2012) “Tie the heifer, loose the bull”: gender inequality in the Caribbean. Available at: Accessed 20 April 2018
  20. 20.
    Case AD, Gordon DM (2016) Contextualizing the health behaviour of Caribbean men. In: Roopnarine JL, Chadee D (eds) Caribbean psychology: indigenous contributions to a global discipline. American Psychological Association, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Kolawole TO, Abubakar MB, Elizabeth O (2012) Gender and party politics in Africa with reference to Nigeria. Online J Educ Res 1:132–144Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    WHO (2017) ‘Sexual health and its linkages to reproductive health: an operational approach’. Available at: http://appswhoint/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/258738/9789241512886-engpdf;jsessionid=0F2FF45F77BE9E275F30391EAF4B52CF?sequence=1 Accessed 25 April 2018
  23. 23.
    Tanner T, Galbraith M, Hays L (2011) From a woman’s perspective: life as a partner of a prostate cancer survivor. J Midwifery Womens Health 56(2):154–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Anderson B, Marshall-Lucette S, Webb P (2013) African and afro-Caribbean men’s experiences of prostate cancer. Br J Nurs 22:1296–1307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Bhugra D, Pathare S, Nardodkar R, Gosavi C, Ng R, Torales J, Ventriglio A (2016) Legislative provisions related to marriage and divorce of persons with mental health problems: a global review. Int Rev Psychiatry 28:386–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Randall D, Rosenberg JP, Reimer S (2017) Solid and liquid modernity: a comparison of the social geography of places to die in the UK and Australia. Death Stud 41:103–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Nursing and Health ResearchUlster UniversityJordanstownNorthern Ireland, UK
  2. 2.School of NursingUlster UniversityLondonderryNorthern Ireland, UK
  3. 3.Department of UrologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Nursing and Health ResearchUlster UniversityColeraineNorthern Ireland, UK

Personalised recommendations