Objective: We sought to identify relationship and partner-related moderating variables that influence the effectiveness of both a couples and a solo learning intervention designed to increase skin self-examination behavior in a sample of patients at risk for developing melanoma. Methods: Patients received a brief intervention designed to teach skin self-examination skills and were randomly assigned into either a solo learning condition where the intervention was administered to the patient alone (n = 65) or a couple learning condition where the intervention was administered to the patient and patient's spouse or cohabiting partner (n = 65). The main outcome measure was skin self-examination self-efficacy, which is the strongest mediator of skin self-examination. The relationship moderator variables measured were quality of relationship, partner motivation, and ability to assist in implementation of the intervention. Results: When quality of the marital/partner relationship was high, the beneficial effects provided by the partner being included in the skin self-examination skills training were the highest and patients exhibited higher self-efficacy. Similar effects were observed for those with partners who were motivated to implement the intervention, and for those with partners high in ability to provide support. Limitations: Study limitations include the need to evaluate whether the effects can be sustained long term and the exclusion of patients with melanoma without partners. Conclusions: The amount of beneficial effects gained by the patient from the skin self-examination intervention was influenced by marital/partner relationships. Clinicians may need to consider these relationship and partner characteristics when communicating to patients about skin cancer screening.
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