Hiding worries from one's spouse: Protective buffering among cancer patients and their spouses

Sharon Manne, James Dougherty, Steven Veach, Rachel Kless

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


This study is an empirical examination of protective buffering. which is a strategy in which individuals hide their worries and yield to their spouses in order to avoid disagreements. The relationship between protective buffering and both psychological distress and avoidant coping of cancer patients and their spouses was investigated. One hundred twenty one cancer patients, 37 men and 84 women, participated. Participants completed questionnaires at two time points, three months apart. Results indicated that male patients, and patients with a lower physician-rated life expectancy. engaged in more protective buffering. Regression analyses indicated that females who engaged in protective buffering, both as patients and as wives, were more distressed and engaged in more avoidant ideation and behavior at the later time point. The adoption of buffering did not have the intended impact, reducing the partner's distress. These results point to the importance of considering the amount and type of communication about cancer in the marital relationship when working with cancer patients and their families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-188
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Research Therapy and Control
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


  • Distress
  • Protection
  • Spouse
  • Worries


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