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Providing resources for male spouses of breast cancer patients: here’s how one CBCF-funded project is making a difference

Dr. Wendy Parulekar Dr. Wendy Duggleby

Caregivers of breast cancer patients play a vital role. For male partners of women with breast cancer, research has shown that the demands of this responsibility can have a significant impact on their psychological well being.

Dr. Wendy Duggleby, with funds from the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Prairies/NWT Region, is leading a study aimed at chronicling a clearer understanding of the transition experience of male spouses of persons with breast cancer, and developing much needed resources. Several other studies have confirmed alarming rates of depression, poor coping, and mood disturbances amongst male spouses, to say nothing of decreased quality of life.

“Male partners of women with breast cancer experience significant and simultaneous concerns alongside their significant other,” says Dr. Duggleby. “ And often they receive little advice or support, resulting in distress.”

The CBCF Prairies/NWT Region has funded Dr. Duggleby and her research team to develop an online toolkit designed specifically for male spouses of women with breast cancer. This interactive online toolkit features activities and information to help male spouses deal with their transitions and provides resources throughout their partners’ treatment and illness experience.

About the Grant:

In the first phase of this project, the research team asked male spouses of women with breast cancer what they needed. Then with an expert panel (including male spouses), the team developed M.a.T.T. (male transition toolkit). Currently in the third phase of this project, researchers are recruiting participants and collecting data to evaluate the toolkit. Following this, the team will adjust the toolkit to ensure ease of use, acceptability and feasibility, while collecting primary data to determine its potential effectiveness with male partners of women with Stage 1, 2 or 3 breast cancers.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation – Prairies/NWT Region supports high-quality research in all areas including biology of breast cancer, prevention, screening, early detection, diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, cancer control, psychosocial, health care delivery and outcomes. The Region’s investments are made with a strategic focus on the impact on the lives of those most affected by breast cancer, including reducing disease burden, improving women’s experiences and quality of life,as well as increasing knowledge about breast cancer prevention and treatment.

Information about the research team:

  • Dr. Wendy Duggleby, PhD, RN, AOCN (Lead Researcher); Professor and Nursing Research Chair Aging and Quality of Life, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta

  • Dr. Ceinwen Cumming, Clinical Professor and Psychologist, Division of Palliative Medicine, University of Alberta

  • Dr. Katia Tonkin, Professor, Department of Oncology, Cross Cancer Institute

  • Dr. Cheryl Nekolaichuk, Associate Professor, Palliative Care Medicine, Department of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta

  • Dr. Roanne Thomas, Associate Professor, School of Rehabilitation Science, University of Ottawa

  • Dr. Sunita Ghosh, Assistant Clinical Professor and Research Scientist, Department of Medical Oncology, University of Alberta; and Alberta Health Services – CancerCare