Male Caregivers of Patients With Breast and Gynecologic Cancer

Experiences From Caring for Their Spouses and Partners

Violeta Lopez, PhD, RN, FRCNA; Gina Copp, PhD, RN; Alexander Molassiotis, PhD, RN


Cancer Nurs. 2012;35(6):402-410. 

In This Article

Data Collection

Data were collected using face-to-face interviews. Interviews were conducted prospectively over 4 time periods: at beginning of treatment (T1) and at 3 (T2), 6 (T3), and 12 (T4) months. The interviews were conducted by 2 experienced female qualitative researchers. Male caregivers were found to be open and uninhibited in discussing their caregiving experiences. An interview guide was used starting with a broad question such as: "How have you been feeling physically this last week?" This was followed by questions relating to the psychological burden caregivers have been known to experience, followed by what impact these experiences may have had on their life and their family, and how they were coping with any physical and psychological problems. New issues identified in the early interviews were incorporated into the interview guide for subsequent interviews. Each interview was audiotaped and lasted about an hour. Interviews were conducted in the patients' homes but separately from the patient. Information about sociodemographic characteristics including age, education, and employment status was also obtained from the caregivers.

Data Analysis

Data collected from the interviews were transcribed verbatim and subjected to content analysis. This method of analysis is often utilized in qualitative descriptive studies because it allows for a systematic approach in coding and categorizing large amount of textual data.[31] Data analysis was conducted simultaneously with data collection. Each of the 60 transcripts (4 data sets per participant) was read line by line so that similar data could be clustered into categories and themes relevant to the study. Comparisons between participants and across periods for categories and themes were made by 2 of the researchers. The analyzed categories and themes were compared and discussed until agreement was reached. A final consensus was sought after comparisons and discussions for all categories and themes.[31] The final analyses of the categories were grouped together, yielding themes that provided a descriptive summary of the overall caregiving experience.

As with any research study, we were mindful of maintaining the rigor of the study. To this end, the study was evaluated according to a process that takes into account the credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability elements of the study.[32,33] Credibility was established by conducting in-depth interviews with participants focusing on the key questions proposed for the study. The prospective nature of the study meant that the interviewers could seek clarification and follow the progress of the male caregivers over time. All interviews were audiotaped, and participants' verbatim quotes were provided to represent categories and themes identified. Transferability was ensured by including a dense description of the themes extracted from the data. Consistency of findings was maintained by constantly comparing data within and across periods for all the eligible participants recruited for this study. Dependability was established by constantly discussing and checking the data by 2 independent persons. This was used as a constant peer-review process to ensure that the analyzed data were true findings and to recognize that bias could occur when describing participants' experiences. This process also ensured that expert qualitative researchers could analyze the same data in the same way and come to essentially the same conclusions. Field notes were reviewed as part of inquiry audit to prevent potential bias and to ensure confirmability of the results.