Kathrin Milbury on Spouse Distress in Couples Coping with Lung Cancer

Kathrin Milbury, PhD, assistant professor of Integrative Medicine Research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses spouse distress in couples coping with lung cancer.

Kathrin Milbury, PhD, assistant professor of Integrative Medicine Research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses spouse distress in couples coping with lung cancer.

In a small study, Milbury analyzed 30 patients with advanced lung cancer and their spouses. Patients and spouses each answered questionnaires about their own symptoms as well as their perception of their spouses’ symptoms.

Milbury found that patients were able to accurately identify their caregivers’ symptom burden, but spouses overestimated the extent to which patients experience symptoms. The analysis also showed that overestimation of patients’ symptoms was associated with the caregiver’s anxiety.

The study also found that lack of cancer-related communication resulted in greater symptom burden in both patients and spouses, including distress, anxiety, and depression.