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The Experience of Family Members in the Context of Mental Illness: Caregiving Burden, Personality Constructs and Subjective Well-Being

Title:

The Experience of Family Members in the Context of Mental Illness: Caregiving Burden, Personality Constructs and Subjective Well-Being

Ella, Amir (2012) The Experience of Family Members in the Context of Mental Illness: Caregiving Burden, Personality Constructs and Subjective Well-Being. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This longitudinal study examined psychological factors that can contribute to subjective well-being among 147 individuals who are the primary caregivers of family members with mental illness. It was hypothesized that adaptive personality constructs and the personality profiles they create would predict higher levels of subjective well-being by facilitating coping with caregiving stress. In addition, it was investigated whether caregiving burden would mediate the associations between personality constructs, coping, and well-being, or whether personality would moderate the associations between burden, coping, and well-being.
The personality constructs included goal adjustment capacities (goal disengagement and goal reengagement, Wrosch, Scheier, Miller, Schulz, & Carver, 2003), dispositional optimism (Scheier & Carver, 1987), and unmitigated communion (Helgeson & Fritz, 1998). Indicators of well-being included positive and negative affect, life satisfaction, depressive symptoms, and purpose in life.
The cross-sectional and longitudinal results indicated that goal disengagement, goal reengagement, and optimism predicted higher levels of several indicators of subjective well-being. Unmitigated communion was associated only with negative affect and depressive symptoms. Caregiver burden was negatively associated with goal disengagement and optimism, but positively with goal reengagement, and explained some of the effects of these personality constructs. Moreover, goal adjustment capacities predicted improved well-being among highly burden participants, while optimism was associated with higher well-being among their less burdened counterparts. In addition, some personality profiles, created by interactions between the three personality
constructs, were meaningfully associated with subjective well-being. Finally, certain coping behaviors were associated with goal adjustment capacities and optimism but not with unmitigated communion. Effective and less useful care-specific coping mediated the effects of goal adjustment capacities and optimism on participants’ subjective well-being.
Overall, the study’s findings suggest that different personality constructs can influence the subjective well-being of individuals caring for mentally ill family members. Moreover, many of these effects could be statistically explained by the way individuals cope with caregiving stress. These findings have important implications for theories of personality functioning and adjustment to stressful life circumstances. In addition, they illuminate pathways to subjective well-being, which has important practical implications for helping caregivers manage their difficult life circumstances and improve their quality of life.

Divisions:Concordia University > School of Graduate Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Ella, Amir
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Special Individualized Program
Date:24 January 2012
Thesis Supervisor(s):Wrosch, Carsten
ID Code:973589
Deposited By:ELLA AMIR
Deposited On:21 Jun 2012 08:32
Last Modified:21 Jun 2012 08:32
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