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Men leave: Separation and divorce far more common when the wife is the patient
Date:11/10/2009

214 patients), those with a solid tumor with no central nervous system involvement (193 patients) and those with multiple sclerosis (108 patients). Almost half of the patients were women.

Chamberlain said the study was initiated because doctors noticed that in their neuro-oncology practices, divorce occurred almost exclusively when the wife was the patient. The researchers enrolled groups of patients with other cancers and with multiple sclerosis to separate the impact of oncologic versus neurological disease. The results showed a stronger gender disparity for divorce when the wife was the patient in the general oncology and multiple sclerosis groups (93 percent and 96 percent respectively, compared to 78 percent for the primary brain tumor group).

The study also found correlations between age and length of marriage and the likelihood of divorce or separation. The older the woman was the more likely her partnership would end. However, longer marriages remained more stable.

Researchers also measured some health and quality of life outcomes among the patients who separated or divorced. They found that patients used more antidepressants, participated less in clinical trials, had more frequent hospitalizations, were less likely to complete radiation therapy and more likely not to die at home, according to the study.

"We believe that our findings apply generally to patients with life-altering medical illness," the authors wrote. "We recommend that medical providers be especially sensitive to early suggestions of marital discord in couples affected by the occurrence of a serious medical illness, especially when the woman is the affected spouse and it occurs early in the marriage. Early identification and psychosocial intervention might reduce the frequency of divorce and separation, and in turn improve quality of life and quality of care."


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Contact: Dean Forbes
dforbes@fhcrc.org
206-667-2896
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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