Study published: The importance of intimacy in caregiving dyads


U-CARE researchers, Joanne Woodford and Chelsea Coumoundouros contributed to a study recently published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. The study examined the interpersonal processes among a multinational group of informal caregivers. The researchers found that the interpersonal process model of intimacy can be used to identify caregivers at risk of poor wellbeing. 

Two people holding hands

Exploring Interpersonal Processes in Caregiving Dyads

Interpersonal processes refer to important processes within relationships that help build intimacy, including open communication of feelings to one another, and feeling understood and cared for. Interpersonal processes may also be important within the relationship between informal caregivers and their care recipient. However, limited research has delved into the processes within caregiving dyads.

This study aimed to learn more about interpersonal processes in dyads coping with different health conditions, and among dyads connected by different relationship types, for example, spouses, adult children and parents), and explore how these interpersonal processes are linked to caregiver wellbeing.

Interpersonal Processes and Caregiver Wellbeing

The study found that there are differences in the interpersonal processes among dyads coping with different health conditions and with different relationship types. However, regardless of the health condition or relationship type among the caregiver – care recipient dyad, interpersonal processes, for example, open communication, feeling understood and cared for, led to reduced caregiver burden, increased intimacy, and increased motivation to provide care.

This finding supports using the interpersonal process model of intimacy to identify caregivers at risk for poor wellbeing. By identifying these caregivers, interventions can be implemented to provide support for their overall wellbeing and improve their relationship with the person they are caring for.

Read the article ‘The interpersonal process model of intimacy, burden and communal motivation to care in a multinational group of informal caregivers’. It is written by Giulia Ferraris, Eva Bei, Chelsea Coumoundouros, Joanne Woodford, Emanuela Saita, Robbert Sanderman, and Mariët Hagedoorn.

The study was conducted as a part of ENTWINE research training network – a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovation Training Network, funded by the European Union. This study was led by Giulia Ferraris, a PhD candidate at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands who visited U-CARE in 2020 as part of the ENTWINE training programme.

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Last modified: 2023-03-24