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Informal caregiving and intimate relationships: the experiences of spouses of UK military personnel

Abstract

Aim Currently, there is no research available on the experiences of spouses providing informal care to wounded, injured or sick (WIS) UK military personnel. The aim of this study was to fill this gap by investigating the relationship experiences of non-military partners caring for WIS UK military personnel.

Methods Spouses of WIS military personnel (n=25) completed telephone interviews with the research team. The data were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. The transcripts were cross-coded and checked for inter-rater reliability.

Results Six major themes were identified: (1) communication between couples, (2) adverse family environment, (3) reintegration, (4) intimacy, (5) financial uncertainty and (6) transition from partner to caregiver.

Conclusions Partners caring for injured/ill military personnel appear to be at risk of experiencing personal distress caused by impaired relationship functioning, which may lead to diminished physical and mental well-being. Partners of WIS military personnel experience significant levels of distress and burden associated with caregiving in the form of arguments with the military partner, problems in reintegration and a lack of physical and emotional intimacy.

  • military
  • UK military
  • Informal caregiving
  • Informal caregiver
  • Caregiver burden
  • Injured personnel
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