‘All I can do is help’: Transition experiences of male spouse caregivers of women with breast cancer

Kelly Struthers Montford, Wendy Duggleby, Ceinwen Cumming, Roanne Thomas, Cheryl Nekolaichuk, Sunita Ghosh, Katia Tonkin


The transition experience of male spouses of women with breast cancer is largely unknown. Ninety-one open-ended surveys of male spouses were analyzed using thematic analysis to understand the transition experience of this population when their partners were diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. While 10 participants indicated they experienced no changes, the majority experienced changes to their roles and relationships, their mental health, and their share of household work. Spouses took on a supportive role. They adjusted to the changes they faced by proactively becoming aware of their situation, fostering a positive approach, and being actively involved in their partners’ experiences. Implications for nurses entail recognizing the role of the spouse, as well as facilitating access to reliable information and support networks. 

Key words: male spouse caregivers, breast cancer, transition, caregiving

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