Well-Being of Family Caregivers of Persons with Late-Stage Huntington's Disease: Lessons in Stress and Coping

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The utility of a stress-process model in predicting health and quality-of-life outcomes for family caregivers of persons with Huntington's disease (HD) was tested. HD is an inherited neurodegenerative disease that poses particular challenges to patients and families. Seventeen family caregivers were interviewed and completed scales measuring stressors, appraisals, protective factors, and outcomes. No direct relationship between stress and caregiver well-being was found; the impact of stressors was mediated by appraisals and protective factors. Bivariate correlation analysis revealed significant positive relationships between satisfaction with emotionally supportive communication and life satisfaction. Significant positive correlations were found between positive appraisals of the benefits of the caregiving experience and life satisfaction and health. Mastery was significantly positively correlated with life satisfaction and negatively correlated with depressive symptoms; similar results were found between spirituality and outcome measures. Caregivers' interpretations appeared to have a more significant impact on well-being than did objective characteristics of the experience.

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Health Communication, v. 24, issue 3, p. 239-248