A Systematic Review: The Effect of Cancer on the Divorce Rate

Dominik Fugmann, Martin Boeker, Steffen Holsteg, Nancy Steiner, Judith Prins, André Karger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Introduction: Research on the impact of cancer on close relationships brings up conflicting results. This systematic review collects empirical evidence on the research questions whether a cancer diagnosis in general or the type of cancer affects the divorce rate. Materials and Methods: This systematic review was conducted according to the guidelines of the Cochrane Collaboration and the PRISMA statement. The following electronic databases were searched: Web of Science, Ovid SP MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PsyINDEX, CINAHL, ERIC. Risk of bias assessment was performed with the preliminary risk of bias for exposures tool template (ROBINS-E tool). The grading of methodological quality was assessed with the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. Results: Of 13,929 identified records, 15 were included in the qualitative synthesis. In 263,616 cancer patients and 3.4 million healthy individuals, we found that cancer is associated with a slightly decreased divorce rate, except for cervical cancer, which seems to be associated with an increased divorce rate. Discussion: According to this systematic review, cancer is associated with a tendency to a slightly decreased divorce rate. However, most of the included studies have methodologic weaknesses and an increased risk of bias. Further studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number828656
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
StatePublished - 9 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • couple
  • divorce
  • marriage
  • oncology
  • psycho-oncology
  • separation
  • spouse


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