Life experiences of male spouse care-givers of cervical cancer patients at the cancer diseases hospital, Lusaka, Zambia.

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Walubita, Emily
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The University of Zambia
Cervical cancer remains the fourth most prevalent cancer among women with an estimated incidence of 570,000 in 2018, representing 6.6 percent of all cancers among women globally. About 90% of deaths are due to cervical cancer occurring in low- and middle-income countries. Men have a critical role to play in reducing cervical cancer burden. However, studies of male partners’ life experiences while caring for cancer patients are scarce in Zambia. This study aimed at generating knowledge on the life experiences of male spouse care-givers of cervical cancer patients at the Cancer Diseases Hospital, Lusaka, The study used qualitative research approach with phenomenological research design. Data was collected from purposively selected twenty (20) male spouse care givers of cervical cancer patients at Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH), Lusaka, Zambia. An interview guide was used to collect data. Content analysis method, using constant comparison technique of the audio recorded interviews, was used to analyze data. The study revealed that most male spouse caregiver to cancer patient had limited knowledge of cervical cancer disease, did not know the causes, symptoms and the risk factors. The male partners associated cancer disease with pain and bleeding from the private parts and faced many challenges including reduced financial base, limited time for other family responsibilities and sexual deprivation. The male spouse caregivers, provided emotional support, financial support by paying medical bills and providing transport and food. Emotional support through prayers and, encouragement and spending time with the spouse were also important aspects of male support to their spouses. Their coping strategies where in form of prayers, bible study as well as smoking and drinking alcohol. The study highlights evidence of life experience of male spouse care-givers of cervical cancer, having not received much attention in the cervical cancer literature. One interesting finding was that most male care givers were not affected by not having sex with their spouses because this is entrenched in the patriarch and masculinity as males construct their genders roles. However, most of them were more affected by the thoughts of where to get financial support and the pain of seeing the spouse lie in bed the whole time. The findings of the study could influence the formulation of deliberate policy strategies that could contribute positively towards much advancement in planning appropriate intervention to support male caregivers of cervical cancer patient.
Thesis of the Master of Social Work Degree.