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Wooldridge JS, Gray C, Pukhraj A, Geller J, Trivedi RB. Understanding communal coping among patients and informal caregivers with heart failure: A mixed methods secondary analysis of patient-caregiver dyads. Heart & lung : the journal of critical care. 2019 Nov 1; 48(6):486-495.
BACKGROUND: Dyads that view illnesses as shared stressors ("shared appraisal"), and collaboratively respond to it, have better outcomes. This process, known as communal coping, has received little attention in heart failure (HF). OBJECTIVES: To examine communal coping among patient-caregiver dyads managing HF. METHODS: We conducted semi-structured interviews with 34 dyads. Shared appraisal was measured using we-ratio, as calculated with Linguistic Inquiry Word Count. We-ratio was divided into "high" and "low" for patients and caregivers, and concordance was examined. Thematic analyses were used to explore collaboration. RESULTS: Caregivers had higher we-ratios than patients (p = .005); 29.6% and 33.3% dyads were concordant on high and low "we-ratio," respectively. In thematic analyses, we found that 1) dyads collaborated around diet, appointments, and medications, but less around physical activity; 2) dyads collaborated across all illnesses, not just HF; and 3) dyads concordant on high we-ratio reported stronger collaborations. CONCLUSIONS: Communal coping varied by shared appraisal and collaboration. Understanding this variability may help develop tailored self-management interventions.