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Effects of Illness on Women’s Relationships


Effects of Illness on Women’s Relationships

In addition to affecting the lives of those who are ill, illnesses may also profoundly affect the spouses or partners who care for those who are ill. Anxiety and depression may increase as caregivers adjust to new realities and expectations. On the other hand, intimacy and closeness may increase as partners solidify their relationships in the face of illness. Though every relationship is unique, there are some trends that can be seen across relationships when, for instance, in a heterosexual relationship the man is the caregiver, and alternatively when the women is the caregiver. Lesbian relationships, too, are impacted when one partner is ill, sometimes in similar patterns to heterosexual relationships, and sometimes in different ways.

To prepare for this Discussion, consider how illness might affect a life partner relationship under these different relationship configurations.

With these thoughts in mind:

Discussion Question:  an explanation of the most significant way illness may affect a heterosexual relationship when the male partner is ill and, alternatively, when the female partner is ill and why. Then explain the extent to which these effects may be the same or different for a female same-sex relationship and why. Be specific and provide examples. Use the Learning Resources and other current literature to support your response.


· Moen, P. (1998). Women’s roles and health: A life-course approach. In K. Orth-Gomer, M. Chesney, and N.K. Wenger (Eds.), Women, stress, and heart disease (pp. 111–132). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

· Wenger, N. K. (1998). Coronary heart disease in women: Evolution of our knowledge. In K. Orth-Gomer, M. Chesney, and N. K. Wenger (Eds.), Women, stress, and heart disease (pp. 1–15). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

· Alexander, T., & Wilz, G. (2010). Family caregivers: Gender differences in adjustment to stroke survivors’ mental changes. Rehabilitation Psychology, 55(2), 159–169.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

· Fekete, E. M., Stephens, M. A., Mickelson, K. D., & Druley, J. A. (2007). Couples’ support provision during illness: The role of perceived emotional responsiveness. Families, Systems, & Health, 25(2), 204–217.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

· Petersen, S., Hutchings, P., Shrader, G., & Brake, K. (2011). Integrating health care: The clear advantage for underserved diverse populations. Psychological Services, 8(2), 69–81.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

· Pineda Olvera, A. E., Stewart, S. M., Galindo, L., & Stephens, J. (2007). Diabetes, depression, and metabolic control in Latinas. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 13(3), 225–231.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

· Wade, T. D., & Lee, C. (2005). The impact of breast cancer on the lives of middle-aged women: Results from the Australian longitudinal study of women’s health. Health Psychology, 24(3), 246–251.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

· Walsh, S. R., Manuel, J. C., & Avis, N. E. (2005). The impact of breast cancer on younger women’s relationships with their partner and children. Families, Systems, & Health, 23(1), 80–93.  Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

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