Academic journal article Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice

Correlates of the Caregiving Process in Multiple Sclerosis

Academic journal article Scholarly Inquiry for Nursing Practice

Correlates of the Caregiving Process in Multiple Sclerosis

Article excerpt

This study sought to identify predictors of general health, mood, family, and life satisfaction for spousal caregivers of persons with multiple sclerosis. Cross-sectional data were obtained through structured interviews with 34 husbands and 27 wives of the disabled individuals. Results of the hierarchical regression analyses indicated that objective burden, subjective burden, and perceived uncertainty about the illness situation accounted for the largest proportion of variance in caregivers' general health, mood, family and life satisfaction. Perceived social support explained an additional small, but significant proportion in caregivers' general health, mood, and family satisfaction. Contrary to expectation, family coping did not significantly explain any variance in caregiver outcome measures.

The progressive and unpredictable nature of a chronic illness such as multiple sclerosis (MS) creates an uncommonly stressful life event for families of the afflicted individual. Family members often are burdened with a variety of direct and indirect caregiving tasks that have the potential to disrupt usual family life and work patterns (Cantor, 1983; Catanzaro, 1990). Previous researchers have noted that providing personal care in particular is strongly correlated with caregiver burden (Barusch & Spaid, 1989; Bull, 1990; Montgomery, Gonyea, & Hooyman, 1985; Novak & Guest, 1989). Caregivers' subjective reactions to the caregiving experience may generate yet another source of strain. The changing needs and losses associated with an uncertain and unpredictable disease pattern also may be related to both the objective and subjective burdens experienced by caregivers (Gotay, 1984; Mishel, 1988; Stetz, 1989). Furthermore, as families reorganize and rise to the challenge of caregiving, they need to implement new coping strategies to deal with the new, complex situation. Social support systems may undergo changes as the family draws upon new environmental resources. The ability of caregivers to effectively cope and mobilize support resources to assist with the demands and strains of the caregiving situation ultimately may affect their own personal health and family and life satisfaction (George & Gwyther, 1986; Haley, Levine, Brown, & Bartolucci, 1987;Quayhagen&Quayhagen, 1988).

Faced with a growing pressure for long-term-care services at a time when public resources are shrinking, policymakers are increasingly looking to the family caregiver as a resource to counteract rising costs of health care. Thus, a decline in caregiver health and satisfaction with family life can be costly for both families and society, as it often necessitates institutionalization of the chronically ill and disabled person (Colerick & George, 1986; Zarit, Todd, & Zarit, 1986). Concomitantly, there may be increased expenditures associated with the caregivers' own declining health.

Past studies of family caregiving have focused largely on situations involving handicapped and disabled children, the mentally ill, cancer, Alzheimer's disease or the frail elderly. Research related to caregiving for handicapped or disabled children or younger adults with chronic mental illness, particularly schizophrenia, have focused on parents as caregivers. Whereas studies of caregiving for terminally ill persons with cancer, those with Alzheimer's disease, or the frail elderly have often utilized mixed samples of parental and spousal caregivers for mostly older adults without giving sufficient attention to the differential effect of the relationship of the caregiver to the ill person on study findings. Because caregiving is superimposed onto other family relationships, it is important to examine caregiving within the context of established roles, such as wife-husband, child-parent. There is a dearth of knowledge about the impact of spousal caregiving on the young or middle-aged adult with chronic illness. This study examined correlates of well-being for spousal caregivers of persons with multiple sclerosis, a disease that usually has its onset during the third and fourth decades of life. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.