The literature on chronic diseases indicates that partner support, as perceived by patients, contributes to well-being of patients in either a positive or a negative way. Previous studies indicated that patients' and partners' perceptions of unsupportive partner behavior are only moderately related. Our aim was (1) to investigate whether discrepancies between patients' and partners' perceptions of two types of unsupportive partner behavior-overprotection and protective buffering-were associated with the level of distress reported by patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and (2) to evaluate whether the direction of the differences between patients' and partners' perceptions was associated with distress (i.e., whether patient distress was associated with greater patient or greater partner reports of unsupportive partner behavior). A cross-sectional study was performed using the data of a sample of 68 COPD patients and their spouses. Distress was assessed using the Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25. Patients' and partners' perceptions of unsupportive partner behavior were assessed with a questionnaire measuring overprotection and protective buffering. Distress was independently associated with patients' perceptions of protective buffering and discrepancies in spouses' perceptions of overprotection. Regarding the direction of the discrepancy, we found that greater partner reports of overprotection as compared with patient reports were related to more distress in COPD patients. Our study showed that patients' distress was associated not only with patients' perceptions, but also with discrepancies between patients' and partners' perceptions of unsupportive partner behavior.
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