Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Nursing


School of Nursing


Faculty of Health and Human Sciences

First Supervisor

Judith Davis

Second Supervisor

Dr Nancy Hudson-Rodd

Third Supervisor

Lekkie Hopkins


The purpose of this phenomenological study is to describe and interpret the experience of couples following the woman's surgery for breast cancer, in order to gain an in depth understanding of how this mutilating surgery affects their everyday lives. Breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in Australian women, and in most industrialised nations. Women in Australia have a one in fourteen lifetime risk of developing the disease. Little is known concerning what meanings this surgery brings to the intimacy experienced between partners. It is important to seek knowledge of the phenomenon of intimacy, how the couples understand it, and how breast surgery has affected it, if at all. Literature to date has focused on the psychological and physiological effects of mastectomy on women, with little attention given to the plight of partners. A phenomenological approach was chosen for the study, and a purposive sample of seven couples was selected for the interviews. Primary data was obtained from audio taped interviews and from participant observation. Data analysis followed the protocol outlined by Colaizzi (1978), and seeks to describe, interpret and extrapolate common themes and meanings from the data.

Included in

Oncology Commons