Aims and objectives: This study aims to develop knowledge on the experiences of male partners of women with cervical cancer during and after the illness. We explore men’s experiences of becoming caregivers as well as how the illness trajectory affects or has affected the relationship.
Background: Receiving a cancer diagnosis has a significant impact on the lives of both the cancer patient and their family members. However, studies of male partners’ experiences with cancer patients are scarce. Additionally, cervical cancer and its impact on male caregivers is less explored than how other cancer diagnoses impact male caregivers. The theoretical concept of caring masculinities is helpful to interpret men’s experiences as caregivers and partners.
Design: The study employs a qualitative design with semi-structured interviews with six men/partners recruited through the gynaecological section at a hospital. COREQ reporting guidelines have been applied.
Findings: Based on our analyses, we find that men’s experiences of being caregivers and partners of women treated for cervical cancer are multifaceted, comprising emotional and practical aspects. However, three main findings stand out as particularly significant for men in the context of cervical cancer: loneliness, an altered sexual relationship and shared feelings of vulnerability.
Conclusions: The men describe an interdependence in the relationship with the women but also how the relationships have been seriously altered, particularly when it comes to sexuality. These findings resonate with hegemonic as well as caring masculinities.
Relevance to practice: Complex issues of intimacy and sexuality should be a pivotal element in educating future healthcare professionals. We strongly suggest that issues such as dealing with masculinity and caregiving roles should be on the agenda and reflected upon in teaching and supervising in clinical practice. A broader approach to sexual health and relationships is needed in the patient–clinician relationships, including information about HPV.