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The Gerontologist 40:738-746 (2000)
© 2000 The Gerontological Society of America

Patterns of Caregiver Experiences Among Partners of Cancer Patients

Chris Nijboer, PhDa,b, Mattanja Triemstra, PhDd, Reike Tempelaar, MScb, Mirjam Mulder, MScb, Robbert Sanderman, PhDb,c and Geertrudis A.M. van den Bos, PhDa,d

a Department of Social Medicine, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
b Northern Center for Health Care Research, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
c Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
d Department for Health Services Research, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, RIVM, Bilthoven, The Netherlands

Correspondence: Chris Nijboer, PhD, National Institute of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NiGZ), DeBleek 13, Postbus 500, 3440 AM Woerden, The Netherlands. E-mail: cnijboer{at}

Decision Editor: Vernon L. Greene, PhD

This study describes patterns of caregiving experiences in partners of patients with cancer (N=148) over a 6-month period. Caregiving experiences were assessed by means of the Caregiver Reaction Assessment Scale (CRA), which consists of four negative dimensions and one positive subscale: Disrupted Schedule, Financial Problems, Lack of Family Support, Loss of Physical Strength, and Self-Esteem. Subgroup analyses were performed according to gender, age, and socioeconomic status (SES). Type, size, and direction of changes in caregiving experiences over time were analyzed both at a group level and at an individual level. Patterns of caregiver experiences appeared to vary between the subgroups; women, younger caregivers, and caregivers with a higher SES experienced caregiving more negatively or less positively. The findings illustrate the value of studying inter- and intraindividual patterns across different subgroups, and stress that caregiver experiences should be regarded as a multidimensional concept that includes both negative and positive experiences of caregiving.

Key Words: Caregiver burden • Cancer • Health • Longitudinal patterns

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