Coping style and typology of perceived social support of male partners of women with breast cancer

Terry Cheng, Maureen Jackman, Maurene McQuestion, Margaret I. Fitch


This article reports on one component of an exploratory qualitative study, namely male partners’ coping style of self-reliance, and the perceived social support that these partners relied upon to cope with their wife’s breast cancer. Data were drawn from a larger study designed to explore male partners’ perceived needs and the services they preferred to address these needs following their wife’s diagnosis of breast cancer. The 27 male partners participating in this study were significantly affected by their wife’s breast cancer. To cope, they relied on a coping style of self-reliance, drawing upon their own internal resources (self reliance) augmented by available informal social support to support themselves, their wife, and their family, and to manage the disease-, individual-, couple- and family-related stressors in their lives. Attention needs to be given to the self-support and social support needs of spouses to address unmet needs and facilitate coping. As the main providers of support for their wives, partners are in the unique position of needing support as well as providing it.

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