Qualitative Study

There are two types of questions in our interview: those that have an easily quantifiable or fixed response (e.g. `How strongly do you agree or disagree with this statement?’ with answers ranging from `Strongly Agree’ to `Strongly Disagree’) and those that elicit an open-ended response (e.g. `Has having a child with this illness changed you? In what way?’). The qualitative component will be used to explore cultural meanings attached to caregiving and how these effect caregiving burden and how the caregiver copes.

We ask specifically about the religious or spiritual interpretations of illness and caregiving, the meaning of the child’s illness, the meaning of the role of a caregiving mother and the importance of personal control. These stories simply cannot be gathered through quantitative means. In addition, we will use qualitative measures to test hypotheses about meaning-based coping, which we think is key to maintaining positive psychological states under stressful conditions.

These hypotheses are actually based on findings from analyses of qualitative data from a previous caregiving study, the UCSF Coping Project. The Coping Project focused on gay male partners of men with AIDS during caregiving and bereavement. The men in this study were able to find positive meaning in everyday events, even in the midst of dire circumstances, and we think this coping ability maintains positive mood. We will examine whether these findings obtain in a different caregiving population. We hope that we will also be able to generate new hypotheses from analysis of maternal caregivers’ narratives.

Last modified: January 20, 2011