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Gender differences in partners of patients with COPD and their perceptions about the patients

Authors Nakken N, Janssen DJA, van Vliet M, de Vries GJ, Clappers-Gielen GAL, Michels AJ, Muris JWM, Vercoulen JH, Wouters EFM, Spruit MA

Received 3 August 2016

Accepted for publication 14 September 2016

Published 23 December 2016 Volume 2017:12 Pages 95—104


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Nienke Nakken,1 Daisy JA Janssen,1,2 Monique van Vliet,3 Geeuwke J de Vries,4 Giny AL Clappers-Gielen,5 Arent Jan Michels,6 Jean WM Muris,7 Jan H Vercoulen,8 Emiel FM Wouters,1,9 Martijn A Spruit1

1Department of Research and Education, CIRO, Horn, 2Centre of Expertise for Palliative Care, Maastricht University Medical Centre+ (MUMC+), Maastricht, 3Department of Respiratory Medicine, Zuyderland, Heerlen, 4Department of Respiratory Medicine, Zuyderland, Sittard-Geleen, 5Department of Respiratory Medicine, Elkerliek Hospital, Helmond, 6Department of Respiratory Medicine, St Anna Hospital, Geldrop, 7Department of Family Medicine, CAPHRI School of Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University, Maastricht, 8Department of Medical Psychology and Department of Pulmonary Diseases, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, 9Department of Respiratory Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Centre+ (MUMC+), Maastricht, the Netherlands

Background/objectives: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) not only affects patients but also their partners. Gender-related differences in patients with COPD are known, for instance regarding symptoms and quality of life. Yet, research regarding gender differences in partners of patients with COPD has been conducted to a lesser extent, and most research focused on female partners. We aimed to investigate differences between male and female partners of patients with COPD regarding their own characteristics and their perceptions of patients’ characteristics.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Four hospitals in the Netherlands.
Participants: One hundred and eighty-eight patient–partner couples were included in this cross-sectional study.
Measurements: General and clinical characteristics, health status, care dependency, symptoms of anxiety and depression, social support, caregiver burden, and coping styles were assessed during a home visit.
Results: Female partners had more symptoms of anxiety and a worse health status than male partners. Social support and caregiver burden were comparable, but coping styles differed between male and female partners. Female partners thought that male patients were less care dependent and had more symptoms of depression, while these gender differences did not exist in patients themselves.
Conclusion: Health care providers should pay attention to the needs of all partners of patients with COPD, but female partners in particular. Obtaining an extensive overview of the patient–partner couple, including coping styles, health status, symptoms of anxiety, and caregiver burden, is necessary to be able to support the couple as effectively as possible.

Keywords: COPD, family caregiving, gender, partners

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