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Gender differences in cancer carer psychological distress: an analysis of moderators and mediators

Authors

  • J. PERZ BA, PHD, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY,

    1. Health Services and Outcomes Research Group, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales
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  • J.M. USSHER BA, PHD, DIPCLINPSYCH, PROFESSOR OF WOMEN'S HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY,

    Corresponding author
    1. Health Services and Outcomes Research Group, School of Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales
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  • P. BUTOW BA, MA (CLINPSYCH), MA (PUB HEALTH) PHD, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOLOGY, CO-DIRECTOR CeMPED,

    1. School of Psychology, Faculty of Science, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales
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  • G. WAIN MBBS, DIRECTOR AND SENIOR STAFF SPECIALIST

    1. Department of Gynaecological Oncology, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia
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Jane Ussher, Professor of Women's Health Psychology, Gender, Culture and Health Research Unit: PsyHealth, School of Psychology, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, Sydney, NSW 1797, Australia (e-mail: j.ussher@uws.edu.au).

Abstract

PERZ J., USSHER J.M., BUTOW P. & WAIN G. (2011) European Journal of Cancer Care20, 610–619

Gender differences in cancer carer psychological distress: an analysis of moderators and mediators

Women cancer carers report higher rates of distress than men; however, there is little understanding of the mechanisms underlying these gender differences. The aim of this study was to examine the potential mediating roles of burden of care, unmet needs, self-silencing, self-efficacy and optimism, and the potential moderating influence of social support, cancer stage, patient gender, time spent caring and other responsibilities, on gender differences in carer distress. Of 329 informal cancer carers (245 women, 119 men), women reported significantly more anxiety, burden of care and unmet needs than men. In the mediation analysis, gender differences in anxiety were fully explained by both the independent contribution and combination of: Disrupted Schedule, Health Problems and Emotional and Spiritual Unmet Needs. Women cared for both men and women patients, across a broad range of relationships, whereas men predominantly cared for their female partner. There was no gender difference in number of hours spent caring or in companionship, amount of support received, and additional responsibilities for children, housework or studies, and none of these factors acted as moderators of gender differences in anxiety. It is concluded that women's gendered role is associated with unmet needs and burden of care, resulting in greater anxiety.

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