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


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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Available from: Jane Ussher, Jan 22, 2014
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    • "Our findings underscored existing research into gendered notions that women emphasize others (Hayes, 2006;Manoogian et al., 2013), even when there are numerous ''others'' requiring care. Subsequently, women are positioned to balance the challenges of survivorship with family responsibilities (Dorgan et al., 2013;Petersen et al., 2003) while also facing challenges associated with illness-related caregiving (Ussher et al., 2013). "
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    • "Whilst this is consistent with previous research reporting that difficulties in the caring role are associated with lack of affection in couple relationships (Allen et al., 1999; Ribeiro & Paul, 2008), our finding is inconsistent with the majority of research specifically on men carers. Previous research has found that the majority of men primarily report positive aspects of their caring, such as pride (Calasanti & King, 2007), a sense of purpose and identity (Seymour-Smith & Wetherell, 2006), or a deepening of their intimate relationship (Ribeiro & Paul, 2008), and pleasure in their caring accomplishments (Ussher et al., 2013); standing in stark contrast to Ben's account. The negotiation of identities within a caring context is a relational experience (Seymour-Smith & Wetherell, 2006). "
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