Cancer caregivers often experience significant challenges in their motivation and ability to comfort cancer survivors, particularly in a spousal or romantic context. Spousal cancer caregivers have been known to report even greater levels of burden and distress than cancer sufferers, yet still take on the role of acting as an informal caregiver so they can attend to their partner’s needs. The current study tested whether a theoretical model of supportive outcomes—the dual-process model of supportive communication—explained variations in cancer caregivers’ motivation and ability to create high-quality support messages. The study also tested whether participant engagement with reflective journaling on supportive acts was associated with increased motivation or ability to generate high-quality support messages. Based upon the dual-process model, we posited that, following supportive journaling tasks, caregivers of spouses currently managing a cancer experience would report greater motivation but also greater difficulty in generating high-quality support messages, while individuals caring for a patient in remission would report lower motivation but greater ability to create high-quality support messages. Findings provided support for these assertions and suggested that reflective journaling tasks might be a useful tool for improving remission caregivers’ ability to provide high-quality social support to survivors. Corresponding theoretical and applied implications are discussed.
- Cancer caregiving
- Dual-process theory of supportive outcomes
- Social support provision