Volume 243 (2017) Issue 1 Pages 27-33
Cancer diagnosis influences both patients and their closest relatives. This cross-sectional study examined psychological distress among individuals whose partners had cancer in a population-based sample. Participants in the survey were citizens residing in Ohsaki City, Miyagi, Japan. Spouse pairs were identified by information of participants’ relationship to the householder and address provided by municipality, and we collected self-report information on cancer history and current pain (but not the cause of pain). Psychological distress was evaluated using the Kessler 6 scale (K6). We identified 29,410 potential participants (14,705 couples), of which 23,766 (11,690 men and 12,076 women) were included in the analyses. A total of 1,374 participants (581 male and 793 female participants) had partners with history of cancer. Logistic regression analyses revealed that these participants, regardless of sex, did not show significantly higher risk of psychological distress (K6 score ≥ 13). When stratifying the analysis by partners’ current pain, men whose partners had cancer and pain showed greater odds of psychological distress (odds ratio = 1.5, p = 0.04), compared with men whose partners had no cancer and had pain. However, male subjects whose partners had cancer but no pain did not show greater odds of psychological distress compared with men whose partners had no cancer and no pain. By contrast, in women whose partners had cancer, psychological distress was not associated with pain status. In conclusion, men whose partners had cancer and pain have higher risk of psychological distress, and its screening to these individuals may reduce the risk.