Partners in prostate cancer
: an exploration of the effects of prostate cancer on female partners of men diagnosed with the condition

  • Teresa Gilleece

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This study explores experiences of female partners of men who had a diagnosis of prostate cancer (PCa), with the aim of understanding the impact of PCa on females.

Around 400,000 men across the UK are living with or beyond PCa, suggesting that 250,000 women will have a partner with PCa. Previous research has mostly used investigation. Few studies have focused specifically on female partners recruited independently of men, which is the focus of the current study.

Using constructivist grounded theory (CGT), 24 face-to-face and two internet facilitated interviews were audio-recorded. Data were transcribed verbatim and analysed using an iterative technique. In keeping with CGT, the scoping review was conducted after analysing data. This focused on experiences and support needs of female partners.

A substantive theory of ‘The female co-survivor’ included 4 pillars, ‘negotiating the health system’; ‘caring, supporting, and protecting’; ‘losing self’; and ‘retaining/regaining self’. Results indicate that women experience impacts on marital relationships, communication, socialising, self-esteem, and emotional well-being, which concurs with results of the scoping review. Of note, only eight out 188 studies recruited women independently from men. However, current findings illustrate an unmet need, as women require practical information on how to care for men across the trajectory of life beyond PCa, and have unmet self-care needs. The current work adds to the literature because it demonstrates the longevity of the impact of PCa on female partners, some for more than twenty years.

PCa affects female partners’ lives in a myriad of ways. Those PCa patients living beyond cancer often have access to support groups, but the opportunity for female partners to communicate about their experiences is limited. Women travel the pathway of cancer recovery with their male partners, they are co-survivors and require support to adjust to the changes and challenges that prostate cancer imparts on their lives
Date of AwardSept 2023
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsThe College of Radiographers
SupervisorClaire Campbell (Supervisor), Lynn Dunwoody (Supervisor) & Rachel Harris (Supervisor)


  • Spouse
  • Couples

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