A study looking at support for couples affected by prostate cancer

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Prostate cancer





This study is testing a new way of supporting couples who are affected by prostate cancer and the side effects of prostate cancer surgery.

If you have prostate cancer, you may have surgery to treat it. But like all treatments, surgery has side effects. These may include decreased quality of life, changes in closeness with your partner and the quality of your relationship, and sexual problems such as difficulty getting an erection.

Prostate cancer and treatment side effects may also affect your partner. We know from research that couples don’t feel they have enough support to cope with these effects, and would be keen to have support if they were offered it.

Researchers in this study want to test a new way of supporting couples. They will ask 68 couples to join this pilot study to see how well the support works and whether it would be possible to offer it to more people. Half the couples taking part will have 6 support sessions with a practitioner who specialises in couple support and the other half will have standard care from their regular prostate cancer team.

The researchers think that couples who have specialist support will have a better quality of life and a stronger relationship. As well as testing this support in a small group of people, the team will work out the overall cost of providing this support. This will include any benefit it has on reducing the need for other healthcare services.

Who can enter

This study will recruit men (and their partners) being cared for by doctors at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh. If you are suitable to join, someone from your specialist team will ask if you would like to take part. Men taking part will

  • Have prostate cancer
  • Have had surgery to treat their cancer at least 11 weeks ago
  • Have scored below a certain level on a questionnaire asking about their quality of life as a man with prostate cancer (you will fill this out if you are interested in joining the study)
  • Have a partner

You cannot enter this study if

  • It is more than 4 years since your prostate cancer surgery
  • You live in Dumfries and Galloway (the team need to recruit people living nearer to the study centre than this)
  • You cannot speak, write or understand English

Trial design

This pilot study will recruit 68 couples. It is randomised. Each couple taking part will be put into one of 2 groups by a computer. Neither you nor your doctor will be able to decide which group you are in.

If you are in group 1, you have 6 sessions of couple support, where you have the chance to talk through how prostate cancer affects you as a couple. You will talk with a specially trained practitioner about

  • The diagnosis
  • Your relationship
  • Issues surrounding closeness and sex

Each session will last an hour.

If you are in group 2, you continue with the same follow up appointments you would have if you were not taking part. If the team finds that the couple support works, they will offer the same support to you at the end of the study.

Support for couples affected by prostate cancer study diagram

The team will ask everyone in the study to fill out questionnaires before you know which group you are in, about 4 months later and again after 10 months. These are to help the team understand more about your quality of life Open a glossary item.

The team may also ask if they can interview you. You will have a separate interview to your partner. They would like to know what you thought about having the couple support or your usual follow up, and what they would need to change if they run this study on a larger scale in the future.

They will treat everything you tell them confidentially Open a glossary item, so no one will be able to link the results to you. If you are in group 1, the practitioner will see a summary of your questionnaire scores so they get an idea of how you are feeling.

Hospital visits

If you are in group 1, you have couple support sessions at Couple Counselling Lothian, which is in central Edinburgh. You make 6 visits, once every 2 to 3 weeks. The team will pay for reasonable travel costs.

Side effects

You should not have any side effects as a result of taking part in this study.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Dr Liz Forbat

Supported by

Couple Counselling Lothian
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Prostate Cancer UK
Scottish Mental Health Research Network
University of Stirling

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle 10916

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Keith took part in a trial looking into hormone therapy

A picture of Keith

"Health wise I am feeling great. I am a big supporter of trials - it allows new treatments and drugs to be brought in.”

Last reviewed:

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