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Spousal Support for Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis: Getting the Wrong Kind Is a Pain

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Pow J1, Stephenson E1, Hagedoorn M2, DeLongis A1. Front Psychol. 2018 Sep 20;9:1760. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01760. eCollection 2018.

Abstract

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1 Department of Psychology, Centre for Health and Coping Studies, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

2 Department of Health Psychology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands.

Abstract

Research indicates that perceived support availability is beneficial, with support available from the spouse particularly important for well-being. However, actual support mobilization has shown mixed associations with recipient well-being. The primary goal of the present study was to go beyond examining the effects of global perceptions of support on recipient outcomes. Instead, we examined the effects of several specific types of support that have been found to be important in the clinical literature. In this study, we followed both members of couples in which one partner was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Patients provided reports on pain for both mornings and evenings across 1 week. Both partners also reported esteem, solicitous, and negative support mobilization received by the patient. We found that patient pain tended to increase across the day following increases in patient reports of negative support receipt and partner reports of solicitous support provision. We also found that patient pain tended to decrease across the day when partners reported increased levels of esteem support provision. Reverse causation analyses indicated higher levels of patient pain may lead partners to increase solicitous support mobilization to the patient. Findings underscore the importance of examining both partners' reports of support within a dyadic coping framework. They further suggest that not all forms of support are equally beneficial, calling for a finer grained assessment of specific support transactions.