Gender differences in coping among spousal caregivers of persons with multiple sclerosis

Eun Jeong Lee, Samantha Dedios, Mandy W.M. Fong, Camille Simonette, Gloria K. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive central nervous system disease resulting in motor, cognitive, and neuropsychiatric symptoms (Chiaravalloti & DeLuca, 2010). The debilitating nature of this disease affects coping strategies of individuals with MS, and that of their familial caregivers (Steck, Amsler, Kappos, & Burgin, 2010). The stress-coping literature consistently reports gender differences in the ways of coping and the level of perceived stress. The present study investigated gender differences in coping and the amount of caregiving strain experienced among caregivers for individuals with MS. Ninety caregivers providing primary care to their spouse with MS were recruited for this study (44 men and 46 women). Multivariate analysis of variance was conducted to assess differences between men and women among five ways of coping, including avoidance, criticism/coercion, practical assistance, supportive engagement, and positive reframing. A statistically significant difference between male and female caregivers was found for criticism/coercion, indicating that female caregivers were more likely to use criticism and coercion as a way of coping. Regression analysis found that criticism/coercion, avoidance, and practical assistance were significant predictors of caregiver strain (ps<.05) for female caregivers. Avoidance, positive reframing, and practical assistance were significant predictors of strain for male caregivers (ps<.05). This finding suggests that clinicians should consider gender differences when they assist caregivers to develop proper coping strategies to reduce the level of caregiver strain and achieve positive adjustment to MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-54
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2013


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