UroToday — A study published in the December issue of “Cancer,” suggests that prostate cancer patients and their spouses benefit from family intervention counseling.  Interestingly, spouses benefited more.

A total of 263 couples participated.  The average patient age was 63 years and average spouse age was 59 years.  The enrollment consisted of 65% in the newly diagnosed category (60% had surgery and 40% radiotherapy), 14% with biochemical recurrence, and 21% with advanced disease. It was noted that 25% of spouses had health problems.

There were no differences between the arms regarding quality of life (QoL) variables. But patients in the intervention group did report less uncertainty about their illness than controls at 4 months. Intervention patients reported more communication about the illness with their spouses than control men at 4 months. There were no differences between groups on general or prostate-specific symptom distress.

Intervention spouses reported better physical QoL than control spouses at 8 and 12 months. They also had better mental QoL scores. Intervention spouses had less negative appraisal of caregiving, less uncertainty about the illness, less hopelessness, higher self-efficacy about ways to manage the illness, and less general symptom distress. The phase of illness and risk for distress did not seem to moderate the effectiveness of the intervention.