This study explored the supportive care needs of men and their partners at various stages of their prostate cancer journey, and the perceived understandings of both about the impact of cancer treatment on their lives and relationships.
A mixed method approach was used. This included four focus groups with prostate cancer survivors and their partners, three additional couple interviews, and an international web-based survey. Completed questionnaires were obtained 193 men and 40 partners from Australia, New Zealand, the USA, UK, Ireland and South Africa.
Nurses providing care for these men should take into account the stage of the man’s cancer journey and his personal circumstances. For example, men were most distressed on first diagnosis and on cancer recurrence, and men without partners had consistently higher distress levels than those with a partner. Although the men were often reluctant to disclose their emotional and physical needs, their partner was often willing talk about changes in their men’s lives. Thus wherever possible, nurses should include the man’s partner in discussions about supportive care. Finally, love, acceptance, intimacy, gratitude, spirituality and hope were all found to be important concepts in enabling prostate cancer survivor’s cope.
A comprehensive nursing assessment of men with prostate cancer should involve wives and partners wherever possible. Nurses should ask questions regarding relationships, intimacy and spiritual needs. Men without partners should be considered at higher risk of enduring distress. Wives and partners of men with prostate cancer are a powerful resource for nurses and health care providers and should be integral in the development of care pathways and the provision of supportive care for men challenged by prostate cancer.