Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 84–94 | Cite as

The influence of developmental life stage on quality of life in survivors of prostate cancer and their partners

  • Janet Harden
  • Laurel Northouse
  • Bernadine Cimprich
  • Joanne M. Pohl
  • Jersey Liang
  • Trace Kershaw



Although prostate cancer is prevalent, little information is available on how it affects couples’ quality of life (QOL) according to their age cohort. The purpose of this study was to examine how quality of life, self-efficacy and appraisal of the illness experience vary among men with prostate cancer and their partners according to age cohort: middle age (50–64); young-old (65–74); and old-old (75–84). Using an Adult Developmental and Family Stress framework, this study focuses on how normative (developmental stage) and non-normative stressors (prostate cancer) may affect a couple's ability to adapt.


A descriptive, comparative design was used to examine age-related differences in quality of life and selected psychosocial variables in 69 men with prostate cancer and their spouses. Cross-sectional data were obtained using standardized instruments with adequate reliability and validity. ANCOVA and MANCOVA were used to determine differences among age groups.


Findings indicated that patients who were ages 65–74 had better QOL and higher self-efficacy than patients ages 50–64 and less negative appraisal of illness than the other two groups. Spouses ages 50–64 reported the most distress related to sexual changes in their husbands. Spouses in both the middle age and old-old group had more bother related to hormone therapy than the young-old spouses.

Implications for cancer survivors

Findings suggest that interventions should be tailored to dyads’ developmental life stage. Younger and older prostate cancer survivors and their partners may benefit from tailored interventions designed to improve their quality of life and confidence in managing their treatment outcomes during the survivorship period.


Prostate cancer Spouses Developmental life stage Quality of life Aging Family Caregivers Couples Self-efficacy 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet Harden
    • 1
  • Laurel Northouse
    • 2
  • Bernadine Cimprich
    • 2
  • Joanne M. Pohl
    • 2
  • Jersey Liang
    • 3
  • Trace Kershaw
    • 4
  1. 1.College of NursingWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.School of NursingUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Division of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Social and Behavioral SciencesYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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