"Examining the support needs of older male spousal caregivers of people with a long term condition: a systematic review of the literature"

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Abstract

Aim
The aim of this review was to identify and synthesise literature reporting on support needs of older male caregivers, who are providing care for a chronically ill spouse/partner at home.

Background
Traditionally, informal caregiving has been perceived as a feminised activity. Consequently, caregiving research has been dominated by female samples, and male caregivers are grossly under‐represented. Given the growing recognition of caregiving as a gendered concept, and the rise in number of male caregivers, particularly in later life, the need for better understanding of the needs of male caregivers is important in order to plan effective support for this population.

Design
A systematic literature review.

Methods
Four electronic databases and grey literature were systematically searched.

Results
The systematic search resulted in 3,646 papers, eligibility criteria were applied to the full texts of 104 papers, and 11 papers met the inclusion criteria. Two core themes were identified: the need to maintain masculinity and the provision of social support.

Conclusion
Findings suggest that men may have a gendered approach to caregiving based on dominant masculine norms. This can be manifested in a reluctance to ask for or accept help and a desire to retain control over caregiving. Findings also revealed isolation and loneliness experienced by older male caregivers, along with a preference for support to address this within a male‐specific context. It is suggested that healthcare professionals should be cognisant of the male caregiver approach and should have an increased awareness of male caregivers support preferences, and of their own gendered assumptions, in order to provide effective support for this population.

Implications for practice
Nurses have a key role in providing family support. Findings from this review suggest that nurses should be aware of the specific needs of older male spousal caregivers if they are to provide effective care and support to this population group.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12318
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Older People Nursing
Volume15
Issue number3
Early online date4 May 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2020

Keywords

  • caregiver
  • gerontological nursing
  • masculinity
  • spousal
  • support

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