Frequency and difficulty in caregiving among spouses of individuals with cancer: effects of adult attachment and gender



How caregivers relate to care recipients can affect how well care is provided and how much burden is experienced in providing it. We conceptualized the relationship of spousal caregivers via adult attachment theory and examined how attachment qualities of caregivers related to level of caregiving involvement and difficulties in caregiving. Gender differences in the associations were also explored. From participants in the ACS Quality of Life Survey for Caregivers, 400 spousal caregivers provided valid data for the study variables. Findings indicated that frequency of various types of care was a joint function of attachment orientation and gender. In contrast, the difficulty that caregivers experienced in providing care related directly to attachment, without moderation by gender. Our findings suggest that ineffective caregivers of cancer patients, who can be identified by their attachment orientation and/or gender, may benefit from educational programs to improve their caregiving skills and to encourage them to utilize resources from other family members or community. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.