Joana Reis, CAP resident at Dona Estefânia Hospital in Lisbon, contributed with a poster on a follow up study of a specialised unit in infant mental health; “How are you now?”
Ana Rita Figueiredo and collegues from Centro Hospitalar Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro in Vila Real contributed with a poster titled “When wives are diagnosed with breast cancer – psychopathology in partners, a rewiev“. They were interested about follow-up of women with breast cancer in consultations. She writes about her experience:
“Breast cancer diagnosis may affect family members and their ability to provide support. Partners of patients with breast cancer are usually the most involved family members, as we have been seeing in our consultations. So, we wondered about the eventual existence of psychopathology in their partners and conducted a literature review to answer this question.
Facing a threatening event (diagnosis, consultation surveillance, results) can be seen as an interpersonal experience shared by the couple. Partners may have difficulties in social, sexual and emotional adjustment and in the marital relationship.
Some studies show that psychopathological morbidity in partners may be equal or worse than that observed in the breast cancer patient herself. While some studies show that a small proportion of partners present with high levels of long term anxiety, others show that they are subjected to a higher level of stress and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. Partners are also at increased risk of developing depression, that becomes more obvious as the functional state of their wives gets worse. These partners visit the physician more often for somatic and psychological symptoms. They are also at greater risk of being hospitalised with an affective disorder. Psychological morbidity increases as the disease progresses to a terminal state.
On the other side, a better relationship predicted better mental health in patients with breast cancer. Better physical health predicted better mental and physical health in the partners.
This results show that there is a risk of developing mental ilnesses in the partners of patients with breast cancer. Further research is necessary, to identify and develop assessment and strategies to support these partners.”