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Personality and Perceived Health in Spousal Caregivers of Patients with Lung Cancer:The Roles of Neuroticism and Extraversion
Purpose: Family members' responsibilities for patients with cancer have increased dramatically over the past decade and will likely continue to rise. Given that caregiving is associated with declines in self-care, there is a need for research on caregivers' perceptions of their own health. The purpose of this study was to examine whether personality is associated with four self-report perceived health items from the SF-36. Methods: The sample consisted of 114 spouses of lung cancer patients who completed cross-sectional measures as part of a larger cohort study on adjustment to the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer. Predictors of interest were Neuroticism and Extraversion scores from the NEO-FFI. Covariates were age, gender, conscientiousness, depressive symptoms, and objective illness burden. Results: Multivariate analyses revealed that caregivers with higher Extraversion scores were less likely to respond affirmatively to the item "I expect my health to get worse" (OR = 0.90, p < 0.05). Neuroticism was associated with poorer perceived health (ORs from 1.11 to 1.12, p's < 0.05). Conclusions: The present cross-sectional findings suggest that personality is associated with responses to SF-36 perceived health items beyond what can be accounted for by objective illness burden and other covariates. The potential overestimation of health among extraverted caregivers may have implications for their health outcomes.
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