Helping at the bedside: Spouses' preferences for helping critically ill patients

Deborah Eldredge

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Scopus citations


    Spouses of patients in intensive care units (ICU) need to be close and helpful to ill partners. According to adult attachment theory, emotional responses may be related to preferences for closeness and helpfulness, and according to control theory optimism also may influence spouses' emotional responses. Spouses' goals and helping behaviors were assessed in 88 spouses of ICU patients. Using a repeated-measures design, the relationships of closeness, helpfulness, and optimism to emotional outcomes were assessed. Preferences for closeness and helpfulness were strongly related, and together with optimism, predicted spouses' mood at some point of the illness trajectory. Spouses who were over-involved with partners' care requirements were at greater risk for emotional distress. Results suggest that closeness and helpfulness are integrated concepts, and that attachment dimensions of a relationship and optimism are useful for understanding spouses' emotional responses to critical illness.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)307-321
    Number of pages15
    JournalResearch in Nursing and Health
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Oct 2004


    • Attachment theory
    • Caregiving
    • Family
    • Intensive care

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Nursing(all)


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