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  • Public defence: 2017-12-08 10:00 v159, Kalmar
    Möllerberg, Marie-Louise
    Linnaeus University, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Health and Caring Sciences.
    Families' life situation when living with cancer: aspects of health and family sense of coherence2017Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
    Abstract [en]

    Aim: To investigate families’ perceived life situation when living with cancer, with a focus on health and family sense of coherence.

    Methods: Study I is a population-based register study that explored how cancer influenced the health of cohabitating partners of persons with cancer in Sweden by examining the onset of new diagnoses, health care use, and health care costs among the partners. Study II focused on familial interaction patterns for families living with cancer in a palliative phase, based on family interviews, and analysed using Gadamerian hermeneutics. In study III, Family Sense of Coherence scale (S-FSOC-S) was culturally adapted and evaluated for reliability and validity, using psychometric analyses. Study IV explored associations between family sense of coherence and hope, anxiety, and symptoms of depression using descriptive statistics and nested linear regression.

    Results: Study I showed that the partners of persons with cancer had significantly increased health care use and health care costs both one and two years after the cancer diagnosis, and that use patterns and costs varied according to the type of cancer that had been diagnosed. Study II revealed that the familial interaction patterns were adjusted in response to changes in family life - changes which encompassed three different, but interrelated, patterns: power dynamics in the family, the “secret game” in the family, and multifaceted closeness and distance in the family. Study III suggested that S-FSOC-S is useful for assessing familial coherence and shows satisfactory reliability and validity. Study IV showed that stronger family sense of coherence was associated with higher hope and lower anxiety and symptoms of depression levels in both persons with cancer and their family members.

    Conclusions: Families’ life situation was affected by the cancer diagnosis, which had an impact on both individual family members and the family as a unit. The type of cancer may help to determine partners’ risk of ill health. The changed familial interaction patterns increased the families’ ability to deal with family life without hurting each other. The S-FSOC-S is a useful instrument for assessing family sense of coherence and can help identify families with weak family sense of coherence, who may need professional support.