Attachment and spousal caregiving
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A community sample of 362 married couples participated in a study of attachment and spousal caregiving, which combined qualitative and quantitative components. The qualitative component focused on actual experiences of caregiving, assessed by participants' semi-structured accounts of a situation involving their role as caregiver for their spouse. Attachment styles and their underlying dimensions (comfort with closeness, anxiety over relationships) were related to the type of support provided, the coping strategies used in the situation, caregivers' feelings about the quality of their care, perceived effects on the couple bond, and the emotional tone of the accounts. The quantitative component tested a theoretical model of factors predicting willingness to provide care for the spouse if he or she should become dependent in later life. Measures of attachment and caregiving styles, attachment to spouse, and anticipated burden provided reliable prediction of willingness to care. The results support the conceptualization of attachment and caregiving as interrelated features of marital bonds, and they have important implications for patterns of family caregiving.
© 2001 Cambridge University Press. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.