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Subjective caregiver burden and caregiver satisfaction: The role of partner relationship quality and reciprocity

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Tough Hannah, Brinkhof Martin, Siegrist Johannes, Fekete Christine ,
Project The social production of wellbeing in disability: a longitudinal study of persons with spinal cord injury and their caregivers
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Volume (Issue) 98(10)
Page(s) 2042 - 2051
Title of proceedings Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
DOI 10.1016/j.apmr.2017.02.009

Open Access


OBJECTIVE: To explore the effect of relationship quality and reciprocity in partnerships on subjective caregiver burden and caregiver satisfaction in partners of persons with a severe physical disability (spinal cord injury). DESIGN: Cross-sectional, observational. SETTING: Community setting. PARTICIPANTS: Caregiving partners of persons with spinal cord injury (N=118). INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Subjective caregiver burden measured by the Zarit Burden Interview (short form) and caregiver satisfaction measured by a single item on feelings of satisfaction resulting from the caregiver role. RESULTS: Caregiving partners who rated their relationship quality as high encountered less subjective caregiver burden (β=-1.10; 95% confidence interval [CI], -1.47 to -0.72; P<.001) and more caregiver satisfaction (odds ratio [OR], 1.18; 95% CI, 1.01-1.45; P=.049). These associations persisted even after controlling for sociodemographic characteristics, lesion severity of the care receiver, and objective caregiver burden. Partners who indicated high reciprocity in their relationship to the care receiver indicated less subjective caregiver burden and more caregiver satisfaction when relationship quality was excluded from the final models; however, the effect of reciprocity on subjective burden (β=-.38; 95% CI, -3.71 to 2.95; P=.82) and caregiver satisfaction (OR, 1.21; 95% CI, 0.28-5.22; P=.80) disappeared when including relationship quality. CONCLUSIONS: Results highlight the importance of relationship quality as a target for couple interventions aimed at reducing subjective caregiver burden and increasing satisfaction in the caregiving role.