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WHAT IT MEANS TO CARE: A MEANING-FOCUSED EXPRESSIVE WRITING INTERVENTION FOR FAMILY CAREGIVERS
Fuhrmann, Amy Carr
Hoffman, Mary Ann
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Over 67 million adults in the U.S. provide informal or unpaid care to a loved one facing a health challenge, but caregivers often feel underprepared and isolated in this challenging role. There is a dearth of interventions to improve quality of life for caregivers. One hundred caregivers wrote three expressive writing essays about their experience in one of three randomly-assigned conditions: caregiver time-management, emotional expression, and meaning of caregiving. This study had two primary aims: 1) to investigate effects of writing among the three writing conditions on outcomes of depression, caregiver burden, intrusiveness, satisfaction with life, worldview violation, and meaning in life and 2) to assess whether meaning in life serves as a mediator for outcomes. Results indicated that some positive effects of expressive writing can be explained by the discovery of, but not simply the search for, meaning. Implications about understanding of the psychological experience of caregivers are discussed.