Failing in spousal caregiving: The 'identity-relevant stress' hypothesis to explain sex differences in caregiver distress.
SourceBritish Journal of Health Psychology, 7, (2002), pp. 481-494
Article / Letter to editor
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British Journal of Health Psychology
SubjectSurgical Oncology; Sepsis and non-bacterial generalized inflammation: causes and effects (sepsis and inflammation); Chirurgische Oncologie; Sepsis en niet-bacteriële gegeneraliseerde ontsteking: mogelijke oorzaken en gevolgen (sepsis en ontsteking)
This study examined a possible explanation for the frequently reported finding that female caregivers perceive more psychological distress than do male caregivers. Our 'identity-relevant stress' hypothesis asserts that feelings of incompetence with respect to caregiving are more strongly associated with psychological distress in women than in men. Women who feel competent with respect to caregiving may report levels of distress as low as that of male caregivers. DESIGN: This study has a cross-sectional design. METHODS: Psychological distress (CES-D) was measured in 32 female and 36 male partners of patients suffering from various types of cancer. Furthermore, partners' perceptions of caregiving performance and patients' perceptions of partners' supportive and unsupportive behaviour were assessed. RESULTS: Only among female partners were self-efficacy and personal accomplishment regarding caregiving found to be positively linked to distress. Also, in contrast to male partners, female partners reported more distress when they acted less supportively. CONCLUSION: The difference in psychological distress between female and male caregivers seems to be carried by a subgroup of partners who feel that they are not doing a very good job at caregiving.
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