Article

The Gendered Construction and Experience of Difficulties and Rewards in Cancer Care.

1University of Western Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Qualitative Health Research (Impact Factor: 2.19). 04/2013; 23(7):900-915. DOI: 10.1177/1049732313484197
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Women cancer carers have consistently been found to report higher levels of distress than men carers. However, there is little understanding of the mechanisms underlying these gender differences in distress, and a neglect of rewarding aspects of care. We conducted in-depth semistructured interviews with 53 informal cancer carers, 34 women and 19 men, to examine difficult and rewarding aspects of cancer care. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the transcripts. Women were more likely to report negative changes in the relationship with the person with cancer; neglect of self, social isolation, and physical health consequences; anxiety; personal strength and growth; and to position caring as a privilege. Men were more likely to report increased relational closeness with the person with cancer, and the burden of additional responsibilities within the home as a difficult aspect of caring. We interpret these findings in relation to a social constructionist analysis of gender roles.

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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Providing care to a partner with cancer can have a significant impact on a carer's wellbeing and experience of subjectivity. However, there is little research examining how men experience the role of cancer carer, and in particular, how they negotiate constructions of gender in this role. This paper draws on a single case study of a heterosexual man caring for his partner, and conducts a narrative analysis of the construction and performance of masculine subjectivity. It was found that rather than inhabiting a stable masculinity, this carer engaged in a complex negotiation of masculinities, enacting a caring role associated with victimisation, rejection, distress, and powerlessness, as well as strength and heroic resilience. We highlight the importance of the relationship context to the experience of caring, and suggest that research into the gendered experience of cancer care needs to acknowledge the active negotiation of masculinities and caring. We also discuss the utility of case study research in analyses of masculinity and cancer care, and in health psychology more broadly.
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