Gender Differences in Marital Disruption among Patients with Cancer: Results from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES)


Background: Cancer is a major life event that imposes huge economic and mental burdens on patients and families. In addition, the diagnosis of cancer also causes significant family discordance that can lead to marital problems such as divorce or separation. The aim of this study was to investigate the association and any related gender differences between cancer diagnosis and marital disruption among cancer survivors. Materials and
Methods: We used the recent cross-sectional Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (4th and5th; Years 2008-2012). The study participants were 623 married cancer survivors over the age of 19. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was conducted to estimate odds ratios.
Results: After adjusting for socioeconomic status and health-related behaviors, the odds ratio of marital disruption among female cancer survivors compared with male cancer survivors was 3.94 (95%CI 1.30-11.94; p=0.02). The odds ratio of marital disruption for the below-average economic level compared with the above-average economic level was 5.64 (95%CI: 1.03-31.02;p=0.05). When compared with the non-smoking cancer survivors, the smoking cancer survivors had an OR of marital disruption equal to 2.94 (95%CI: 1.08-8.00; p=0.03).
Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that the odds of marital disruption among female cancer survivors are higher than those among their malecouterparts. Medical practitioners should be sensitive to early signs of marital discord in couples affected by a cancer diagnosis. Early identification and psychosocial intervention might reduce the frequency of divorce and separation and thus improve quality of life and quality of care for cancer survivors.