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Experiences of Women With Breast Cancer and Their Partners in Achieving Coherence as a Couple During the Disease Journey.

Nursing for Women's Health 2024 Februrary 25
OBJECTIVE: To describe the experiences of female patients with breast cancer and their partners in achieving coherence as a couple during the disease journey.

DESIGN: Qualitative study.

SETTING: Colombia, South America.

PARTICIPANTS: Women diagnosed with breast cancer in the last 2 years and their intimate partners with whom they lived during the 6 months before study enrollment. In total, 16 heterosexual couples participated in individual interviews and focus groups.

METHOD: Interviews and focus groups were analyzed using content analysis.

RESULTS: Four themes were identified: The Diagnosis: A Moment That Destabilizes the Couple, Couple's Sexuality: Seeking the Best Conditions Between Desire and Reality, Generating Mutually Supportive Dynamics in the Face of Cancer, and The Transformation of a Negative Situation Into a Positive One and Achieving Coherence Within the Couple. The first theme represents the initial moment of uncertainty and emotional reactions due to the confirmation of the diagnosis of breast cancer. The second captures the physical and emotional effects in the couple's sexuality generated by the treatment and diagnosis as well as the strategies used to strengthen the couple's relationship. The third reflects how the couple's support is based on commitment, companionship, and the performance of daily actions. The last describes how the adaptation process allows couples experiencing the disease to achieve coherence.

CONCLUSION: These findings highlight that couples experiencing breast cancer can transform the negative situation into an opportunity to strengthen their relationship by achieving coherence. Future research is needed to investigate the antecedents, attributes, and outcomes related to couples' coherence. Moreover, health professionals should perform periodic assessments on the dynamics, coping strategies, and resources at couples' disposal to help promote couples' adaptation and coherence.

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