Spouses are often the primary caregivers for ailing partners. As couples age, husbands and wives tend to be the sole caregiver of spouses with progressive mental health problems, such as dementia or other cognitive impairments. When physical health declines, spouses also assume the role of caregiver and take charge of nursing and caring for their loved one. Because of this, caregivers have been shown to have extremely high rates of psychological stress and overwhelm. Burnout is common among caregivers, and spouses caring for partners are vulnerable to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. But how do caregivers feel when their spouses receive the gift of life and healing? Specifically, how does a spouse feel when his or her partner receives a life-saving organ transplant? Although they may still be physically impaired for a period of time, there is hope for a better future, and this outlook may influence the quality of life and mental health of the patient and the spouse.
Lutz Goetzmann of the Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy at Segeberger Clinic in Germany was curious to see if organ transplant recipients and their spouses would experience increases in quality of life and relationship satisfaction as a result of the transplant. Goetzmann surveyed 121 organ transplant patients and their spouses after their surgeries and asked them about their level of life satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, burnout, and overall quality of life. The results revealed that the patients had different ratings than their spouses. Goetzmann said, “The only significant association with life satisfaction that emerged was the patients’ rating of the quality of the relationship: The higher the rating, the higher the patient’s life satisfaction.” Interestingly, the patients rated their relationship satisfaction higher than their spouses did. Goetzmann believes that this could be due to the patients’ feelings of being overly benefited in the relationship while the spouses feel under benefited. However, overall, the level of burnout was low and the levels of life satisfaction and quality of life were very high for all of the participants. These findings suggest that caregivers and patients facing a treatable condition may have a better psychological outlook than those dealing with chronic or progressive conditions.
Goetzmann, L., Scholz, U., Dux, R., Roellin, M., Boehler, A., Muellhaupt, B., et al. (2012). Life satisfaction and burnout among heart, lung, liver, and kidney transplant patients and their spouses. Swiss Journal of Psychology 71.3:125-134.
© Copyright 2012 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.