Supportive nonverbal communication within couples with curative colorectal cancer
01 / 2009 - 01 / 2013
Coping with cancer is not an individual but a dyadic affair, meaning that patients' adjustment is affected by their partners' adjustment and vice versa. One central aspect of this dyadic process is the exchange and communication of support. This project focuses primarily on a largely neglected aspect of supportive communication within couples coping with cancer, namely non-verbal communication. Specifically, associations between non-verbal communication and well-being in both partners will be studied based on their behavior during a supportive interaction task. We have videotaped 65 couples who engaged in a support interaction task. In this semi-structured communication task patients as well as their partners were asked to list their cancer-related concerns (e.g., fear of dying, treatment side effects, fear of losing the patient, caregiver burden), and next, to discuss one of these concerns with their partner. Well-being of both partners has been assessed several times after diagnosis. One or more additional studies will be carried out to gain more insight into the role of communication in couples' adaptation to cancer.