Although some couples report an improved relationship since coping with breast cancer together, little quantitative information exists about this phenomenon. We assessed extent to which both couple members report that breast cancer brought them closer and characteristics that predicted this.
This prospective study was based on all women with newly diagnosed nonmetastatic disease first treated during recruitment in four Quebec hospitals, in addition to their spouses. Participation was 87% among eligible patients and 91% among spouses of participating patients. Both couple partners were interviewed individually about quality of life at 2 weeks and 3 and 12 months after treatment start. At 12 months, each was asked whether the disease had brought them closer, distanced them, or had no effect.
Overall, 42% of the 282 couples said breast cancer brought them closer, 6% had one or other partner reporting feeling distanced, and less than 1% of couples had both partners reporting feeling distanced. Characteristics assessed explained 31% of variance in the proportion of couples getting closer (P