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      Relationship satisfaction in couples confronted with colorectal cancer: the interplay of past and current spousal support

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          Abstract

          Based on attribution theory, this study hypthesized that past spousal supportiveness may act as a moderator of the link between one partner’s current support behavior and the other partner’s relationship satisfaction. A sample of 88 patients with colorectal cancer and their partners completed questionnaires approximately 3 and 9 months after diagnosis. The data were analyzed employing dyadic data analytic approaches. In the short-term, spousal active engagement—which involved discussing feelings and engaging in joint problem solving—was positively associated with relationship satisfaction in patients as well as in partners, but only when past spousal support was relatively low. Spousal protective buffering—which involved hiding worries and fears and avoiding talking about the disease—was negatively associated with relationship satisfaction in patients, again only when past spousal support was relatively low. If past spousal support was high, participants rated the quality of their relationship relatively high, regardless of their partner’s current support behavior. Over time, past spousal supportiveness was not found to mitigate the negative association between spousal protective buffering and relationship satisfaction. Overall, our results indicate that relationship satisfaction can be maintained if past spousal supportiveness is high even if the partner is currently not very responsive to the individual’s needs, at least in the short-term.

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          Most cited references 40

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          The Effect of Different Forms of Centering in Hierarchical Linear Models

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            Gender and social structure in the demand/withdraw pattern of marital conflict.

            This study examined the effects of gender and social structure on the demand/withdraw pattern of marital conflict. In this pattern, the demander, usually the woman, pressures the other through emotional requests, criticism, and complaints, and the withdrawer, usually the man, retreats through defensiveness and passive inaction. In this study, 31 couples were assessed in 2 conflict situations: 1 in which husband wanted a change in wife and 1 in which wife wanted a change in husband. Data from husbands, wives, and observers consistently revealed a significant main effect of gender (wife-demand/husband-withdraw interaction was more likely than husband-demand/wife-withdraw interaction) and a significant interaction of gender and conflict structure (wife-demand/husband-withdraw interaction was more likely than the reverse only when discussing a change the wife wanted). Separate analyses of demand and withdraw behaviors indicated that both husband and wife were more likely to be demanding when discussing a change they wanted and more likely to be withdrawing when discussing a change their partner wanted. However, men were overall more withdrawn than women, but women were not overall more demanding than men.
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              Distress in couples coping with cancer: a meta-analysis and critical review of role and gender effects.

              Research concerning distress in couples coping with cancer was integrated using meta-analysis and narrative critical appraisal. Individual levels of distress were determined more by gender than by the role of being the person with cancer versus that person's partner. That is, women reported consistently more distress than men regardless of their role (standardized mean difference = 0.31). The association between patient and partner distress within couples was only moderate (r = .29) but is sufficient to warrant further consideration of the notion that these couples react as an emotional system rather than as individuals. It is noteworthy that this association is not moderated by gender. With a general lack of comparison groups, the question of how much distress can be ascribed to the cancer experience cannot be answered decisively; elevations in distress are probably modest. We critically discuss these results, identify important unanswered questions, and indicate directions for future research. Attention needs to be directed toward factors other than cancer as direct influences of distress in these couples and to mediators and moderators of the cancer experience. Copyright (c) 2008 APA.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Mariet.Hagedoorn@med.umcg.nl
                Journal
                J Behav Med
                Journal of Behavioral Medicine
                Springer US (Boston )
                0160-7715
                1573-3521
                11 January 2011
                11 January 2011
                August 2011
                : 34
                : 4
                : 288-297
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Social Sciences, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
                [2 ]Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA USA
                [3 ]Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC Canada
                [4 ]Department of Surgery, Medical Center Leeuwarden, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands
                [5 ]Department of Gastro Intestinal Surgery, Free University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [6 ]Health Pyschology Section (FA 12), Department of Health Sciences, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, P.O. Box 196, 9700 AD Groningen, The Netherlands
                Article
                9311
                10.1007/s10865-010-9311-7
                3141841
                21222025
                © The Author(s) 2011
                Categories
                Article
                Custom metadata
                © Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

                Neurology

                marital quality, longitudinal, attributions, cancer, active engagement, protective buffering

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