Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 6, pp 1703–1713 | Cite as

Prostate cancer and the impact on couples: a qualitative metasynthesis

  • Nicole CollaçoEmail author
  • Carol Rivas
  • Lauren Matheson
  • Johana Nayoan
  • Richard Wagland
  • Obrey Alexis
  • Anna Gavin
  • Adam Glaser
  • Eila Watson
Review Article



To review and interpret existing qualitative literature on the experiences of couples affected by prostate cancer (PCa).


A metasynthesis was carried out which included a systematic search of seven databases between 2000 and 2016. A modified version of Noblit and Hare’s meta-ethnographic approach was used to synthesise qualitative study findings and inform overarching interpretations.


Thirty-seven studies focusing on the experiences of men with PCa and their partner dyad were included producing seven interconnected constructs. The construct accepting change vs seeking continuity reflects the range of ways individuals within the dyad and couples adjust to the diagnosis. Cultivating connection vs disengaging illustrates how couples seek to manage the impact of PCa and its treatment on their relationship, which may lead to a threatened identity, including sexual insecurities. Shielding me, you and us reflects the ways in which couples strive to protect themselves as individuals and/or each other from the impact of PCa. Being a partner and its challenges highlights the responsibilities partners assume and the impact of their supporting role. Yet, partners sometimes report feeling unsupported and side-lined both by the man they are caring for and by healthcare professionals. Couples often recognise the value of facing PCa together.


PCa affects both members of the dyad as individuals, as well as the couple’s relationship. How best to support couples and how to overcome difficulties in expressing their concerns to one another requires further consideration. Healthcare professionals should endeavour to employ a couple-focused approach where appropriate.


Prostate cancer Qualitative metasynthesis Partner experience Couples Dyad Oncology 



This study was funded by Oxford Brookes University which is a sub-study to the Life After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis (LAPCD) study. The LAPCD study was funded by the Movember Foundation, in partnership with Prostate Cancer UK, as part of the Prostate Cancer Outcomes programme, grant number BO26/MO.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Health and Life SciencesOxford Brookes UniversityOxfordUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  3. 3.School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Centre for Public HealthQueen’s UniversityBelfastUK
  4. 4.Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, Faculty of Medicine and HealthUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK

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