Spouse Positive Social Control is Linked With Better Patient Mood and Self-efficacy During Cancer Treatment
1Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Department of Oncological Sciences, New York, USA
2RTI International, Patient and Family Engagement Research Program, NC, USA
3The University of Texas, Department of General Oncology, Houston, TX
BACKGROUND: Head and neck cancer (HNC) patients experience debilitating side effects, including abnormally reduced salivation and difficulty swallowing. Intensive self-care protocols are prescribed to control side effects, but non-adherence rates are high. Spouses can encourage adherence, but the effects of spouse social control (i.e., attempts to influence patient behavior to support adherence) on HNC patient mood and self-efficacy for symptom management are not well-understood. METHODS: In this mixed-methods study, 125 patients (86% male) and their spouses were recorded as they discussed a cancer-related concern of their choosing. FINDINGS: 68 couples chose to discuss side-effects; spouses engaged in social control in 61 of these discussions. Although spouses engaged in both positive and negative social control, only the number of spouse positive control attempts during couples’ discussions was associated with better patient self-efficacy and mood after the discussions. DISCUSSION: Programs that teach spouses to maximize their use of positive social control tactics may boost HNC patients’ positive mood during treatment and empower them to engage in recommended self-care behaviors.