Aims: Prostatectomy, although offering the best prognosis for localised prostate cancer, can lead to distressing side effects such as incontinence and changes in sexual functioning. Services offering support for men experiencing cancer-related distress are under-utilised. Support services offered via telephone are thought to have the potential to reach men who are geographically isolated, or uncomfortable with seeking support face-to-face. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of perceived control, social pressure, attitudes, level of distress, level of self-reliance and stoicism on men’s intentions to use telephone-based and face-to-face support services.
Methods: A mixed methodology was used, in which data were collected through surveys and telephone interviews. A community sample of 447 men (response rate 30.9%) aged 42 to 77 years (M = 63.03, SD = 6.82) was surveyed after recruitment via Medicare Australia. All men had undergone a radical prostatectomy in the last quarter (October to December) of 2010. Semi-structured interviews with 29 men were analysed using a grounded theory framework.
Results: Significant predictors of both telephone and face-to-face support were lower levels of stoicism, a more positive attitude towards support, and higher levels of perceived control and social pressure to use such a service. In addition older age and being married/partnered predicted intention to use telephone support, whereas lower levels of physical well-being predicted intention to use face-to-face support. Sixty-six percent of men surveyed expressed a preference for face-to-face support over telephone support. The main reasons for this preference related to building genuine relationships and the desire to monitor body language.
Conclusions: The influence of positive attitudes, significant others in men’s lives, and the importance of building rapport need to be considered in any interventions delivered via telephone. Technologies like Skype have the potential to deliver telephone interventions with all the benefits of face-to-face interactions.