Informal caregivers' conceptions of daily life with a spouse having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

University dissertation from Växjö, Kalmar : Linnaeus University Press

Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis was to explore informal caregivers’ daily life with particular focus on those living with a spouse who has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in different grades, mild to severe, based on the ill person’s main concern.The study design was explorative, comparative and descriptive. The thesis included a literature review of 45 scientific articles and semi-structured interviews with 23 patients suffering from COPD, and 21 women and 19 men living with a spouse suffering from COPD. Data were analysed using content analysis, grounded theory, and phenomenography.Main findings: Men and women living with a spouse suffering from mild COPD did not experience changes in their daily life, and were not in need of support. It was when the COPD gradually escalated that their daily life was affected and they needed support. The caregiving women conceived that their daily life was socially restricted, they had changed roles, changes in health and changes in the couple’s relationship. The caregiving men’s daily life was conceived as burdened, restricted and the partner relationship was affected. The men’s attitude was to continue with their own life and own activities, and their approach to their caregiving situation was to view themselves as “Me and my spouse”. The main concern for people suffering from COPD was feelings of guilt due to self-inflicted disease associated with smoking habits. The thesis shows that there are differences in informal caregiving between males and females.Conclusion: This thesis shows that there are differences in male and female caregiving for a spouse suffering from COPD. The caregivers conceive and handle the caregiving situation in different ways. It is central that health professionals and municipality consider this along with the individual needs that are related to the development of the COPD. There is a need to identify the person who suffers from COPD and their spouses from the first contact onwards, to regularly follow the development of their situation and need of support.

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