Women with chronic illness: their views of their families' adaptation

Health Care Women Int. 1995 Mar-Apr;16(2):135-48. doi: 10.1080/07399339509516165.


Although research has characterized the effects of chronic illness on patients and their spouses, little work has addressed the effects of a woman's chronic illness on her family. We tested a model of family functioning during a woman's chronic illness. Data were obtained from standardized questionnaires from 48 women who resided with an adult partner and one or more school age children and had breast cancer, diabetes, or fibrocystic breast disease. Path analysis indicated that the women experienced more demands associated with their illness as the time since their initial diagnosis lengthened. The number of demands associated with the illness in turn produced problems with marital adjustment. Introspective coping behaviors were used more frequently by families in which the woman experienced high marital adjustment but depressed mood than by families in which the woman was not depressed but experienced marital difficulties. Women's relationships with their children were positively influenced by better marital adjustment, and women who had positive relationships with their children described their children's relationships with their peers as positive. Family functioning was optimum when the family frequently engaged in introspective coping behavior, when the woman had a low level of depressed mood, and when marital adjustment was positive.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Models, Psychological
  • Regression Analysis
  • Women / psychology*