A Social Interaction Analysis of the Daily Conversations of Couples Coping with Breast Cancer
AuthorRobbins, Megan L.
AdvisorMehl, Matthias R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation used naturalistically-observed snippets of actual conversations of couples coping with breast cancer to understand how often, with whom, and how couples talk about cancer and other topics, and how these conversations relate to both partners' adjustment to the experience. Fifty-six breast cancer patients undergoing treatment and their spouses wore the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) for one weekend and completed adjustment questionnaires at baseline and a two-month follow-up. The first study revealed that couples discussed cancer in fewer than 10% of their conversations, and that these conversations occurred more frequently with each other than with friends and family. Cancer conversations tended to be informational and supportive, and spouses', rather than patients', discussion of cancer tended to be more related to adjustment. The second study analyzed the social language used within couples' cancer-related and other topics of conversation. Specifically, it examined the associations between we-talk (first-person plural pronouns), I-talk (first-person singular pronouns), and you-talk (second-person pronouns) and couples' adjustment. Results revealed that, contrary to prediction, both partners' we-talk was associated with concurrent, rather than future, adjustment. Further, both partners' focus on the spouse, indicated by I-talk and you-talk, was related to better adjustment for spouses. The findings in this dissertation indicate that psychosocial factors influence spouses' adjustment at least as much as patients' adjustment to breast cancer, and that couples without an exclusive focus on the patient may fare better overall.
Degree ProgramGraduate College