Self-coherence, emotional arousal and perceived health of adult children caring for a brain-impaired parent



An important concern for nurses is the ability of adult children to provide effective care to a dependent parent without sacrificing their own health and well-being. The purpose of the study was to examine ‘sense of self-coherence’ as an inner resource for the attenuation of distress in a sample of 168 adult children who were involved with the care of a brain-impaired parent. Subjects were interviewed twice in their homes in order to obtain data on variables for: self-coherence, emotional arousal, perceived health, and crisis. Findings from the study indicate that adult children with crisis experience in the previous 6 months of caregiving had higher scores for emotional arousal, lower scores for self-coherence, and lower ratings of perceived health than did adult children with no crisis experience. In addition, there was a negative relationship between self-coherence and emotional arousal and a positive relationship between self-coherence and perceived health. Both of these relationships were significantly stronger in the presence of crisis experience than in the absence of crisis experience. Finally, there was a negative relationship between emotional arousal and perceived health that was equally apparent in both the presence and absence of crisis experience. The findings suggest that self-coherence is an inner resource that emerges in filial crisis to modulate the emotional impact of the situation. The implication is that measures of self-coherence could be used to assess an adult child's preparedness to appraise and cope with emotional responses to filial crisis events. This information could help nurses anticipate and target resources for vulnerable adult children so that they are less adversely affected by the demands of parent care.