Patterns and predictors of symptom incongruence in older couples coping with prostate cancer

Kerri M. Winters-Stone, Karen Lyons, Jill Bennett, Tomasz (Tom) Beer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: Prostate cancer survivors (PCSs) may experience persistent symptoms following treatment. If PCSs and spouses differ in their perceptions of symptoms, that incongruence may cause mismanagement of symptoms and reduced relationship quality. The purpose of this study was to examine symptom incongruence and identify the PCS and spouse characteristics associated with symptom incongruence in older couples coping with prostate cancer. Methods: Participants in the study were older PCSs (>60 years) and their spouses (N=59 couples). Symptom incongruence was determined by comparing patient and spouse independent ratings of the severity of his cancer-related symptoms. Predictor variables included PCS age, time since diagnosis, PCS comorbidity, PCS and spouse depressive symptoms, and spouse caregiving strain. Results: PCS and spouse ratings of his symptom severity and the amount of incongruence over his symptoms varied significantly across couples. Overall, couples rated a moderate level of PCS symptom severity, but PCSs and their spouses significantly differed in their perceptions of PCS symptom severity with spouses rating severity higher (t=-2.66, df=51, p<0.01). PCS younger age and high spouse caregiver strain accounted for 29 % of incongruence in perceptions of PCS symptom severity. Conclusions: This study is among the first to show that PCSs and spouses may perceive cancer-related persistent symptoms differently. Among this older sample, younger PCS age and spouse caregiver strain were associated with incongruence in symptoms perceptions in couples. These and other factors may inform future interventions aimed at preserving relationship quality in older couples who have experienced prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1341-1348
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Depression
  • Quality of life
  • Relationship
  • Supportive care
  • Survivorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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