OBJECTIVE: To examine the trajectory of marital adjustment, satisfaction and dissolution among 121 hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) couples-as a function of role (patient or spouse) and gender. METHODS: Prospective, longitudinal design. Participants completed the Dyadic Adjustment Scale at six time points: pre-transplant (4-7 days after beginning medical workup prior to starting transplant), 6 months post-transplant, and 1, 2, 3 and 5 years post-transplant. They also reported on marital status over time. RESULTS: Participants ranged in age from 23-68 (52% female patients and 48% female spouses). Ninety-eight patients received an allogeneic transplant; 23 received an autologous transplant. Marital dissolution was uncommon (four divorces since the transplant among 55 participating 5-year survivors, 7%). Dyadic satisfaction was stable over time for both male and female patients and male spouses, but not for female spouses who reported reductions in satisfaction at all time points relative to baseline. CONCLUSION: Couples were by and large resilient. However, caregiver-specific gender differences indicate an increased risk for relationship maladjustment and dissatisfaction among female spouses and ultimately, female spouse/male patient couples.
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