Psychological and immunological reactions of family members to patients undergoing bone marrow transplantation

Ann D. Futterman, David K. Wellisch, Jacob Zighelboim, Marcia Luna-Raines, Herbert Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The authors' goal was to evaluate the impacts of patients' bone marrow transplant (BMT) on their spouse/partner's (subjects) psychological and immunological status at four key points in the course of their transplant. Subjects' (N = 24) psychological and immunological status was prospectively evaluated at four key points in the patient's BMT which included: at patients' admission to hospital and 0-, 20-, and 34-day intervals after BMT infusion. Psychological variable, s examined included: a) general psychological distress anti negative affect; b) tendency to respond in a socially desirable manner; c) state negative affect; and d) coping style, specifically if escape-avoidance coping was used. Immune variables examined included: percentages of total T cells and of CD4+ CD8+ cells, B cells, and natural killer (NK) cells, and NK cytoxicity. Greatest abnormality in immune variables was detected before the initiation of BMT (ie, between admission and day 0) with normalization between days 21 and 34 thereafter. During the waiting period before BMT, the subjects had the highest scores on negative affects, escape-avoidance coping, and psychological symptoms. These progressively declined after the BMT procedure. Significant correlations were found among trail anxiety, escape-avoidance coping, and total percentage oft coils and of CD4+ cells. Escape-avoidance coping was reliably correlated with percentage of B cells. The greatest psychological and immunological impacts on spouse/partners of BMT patients were found in the period directly after hospital admission and before BMT infusion. Alterations in immune values occurred in anticipation of BMT in the spouse/partners. Psychological symptoms followed this same pattern, being most elevated before BMT and decreasing in the successive evaluations post-BMT for the spouse/partners. The most significant and consistent psychological variable in predicting immune changes was escape-avoidance coping, with less escape-avoidance coping predicting better immune functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-480
Number of pages9
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1996


  • bone marrow transplant
  • cancer
  • coping
  • psycho- oncology
  • psychoimmunology
  • spouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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