The decision-making process for breast reconstruction after cancer surgery: representations of heterosexual couples in longstanding relationships

L Fasse, Cécile Flahault, C Vioulac, Kristopher Lamore, Anna Van Wersch, Bruno Quintard, Aurélie Untas

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Abstract

Objectives: Most people deal with intrusive life events such as cancer and the care trajectory together with their intimate partners. To our knowledge, no research has studied the involvement of the partner in the decision-making process facing breast reconstruction (BR) after cancer. This study aims to gain a better understanding of the couples’ decision-making process for BR in the cancer context and particularly to investigate the partners’ involvement in this process. Method: Eighteen participants (nine women who underwent a mastectomy following a first breast cancer and their intimate partners) took part.. We conducted semi-directive interviews and a general inductive approach was chosen to capture the representations of the couples. Results: The women in the sample were aged between 33 and 66 years (M= 54, SD=7.5), and their partner between 40 and 76 years (M= 59, SD=11.6). The duration of their intimate relationship was on average 18 years (SD=10.4; Minimum=4; Maximum=33). The analysis revealed 11 major themes. The 2 most salient ones were “external influence” and “implication of the partner”. The exploration of the subthemes revealed that the decision-making process is often reported as an interrelated experience by the couples and as a dyadic stressor. The partner’s role is depicted as consultative and mostly supportive. Conclusion: These results provide new insights on the involvement of the partner in decision-making. It is crucial to develop a prospective study, which will facilitate understanding the progression of the decision-making process over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)-
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2017

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