Naturalistically observing noncancer conversations among couples coping with breast cancer

Megan L. Robbins, Alexander Karan, Ana Maria Lopez, Karen L. Weihs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: This study revealed the landscape of noncancer conversations, identifying topics and types of everyday conversation, and examined links to psychological adjustment among couples coping with breast cancer. Methods: Fifty-two couples wore the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) over 1 weekend and self-reported psychological adjustment while patients were on treatment. The EAR sampled 50 s of ambient sound every 9 minutes to estimate the frequency of noncancer conversation and reveal topics and types of conversation. Results: Analyses revealed noncancer conversations comprised over 93% of conversations. The most common topic discussed was people. Substantive conversation was associated with better, while emotional disclosure was associated with worse, well-being for patients, but not spouses. Conclusions: Results revealed that ordinary conversations are frequent among couples who face breast cancer, and they are associated with patients' psychological adjustment, providing a foundation for potential interventions for coping with cancer that do not focus on illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2206-2213
Number of pages8
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR)
  • cancer
  • close relationships
  • emotional disclosure
  • oncology
  • substantive conversation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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