Gender differences in partners of patients with COPD and their perceptions about the patients

Nienke Nakken*, Daisy J. A. Janssen, Monique van Vliet, Geeuwke J. de Vries, Giny A. L. Clappers-Gielen, Arent Jan Michels, Johannes Muris, Jan H. Vercoulen, Emiel F. M. Wouters, Martijn A. Spruit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background/objectives: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) not only affects patients but also their partners. Gender-related differences in patients with COPD are known, for instance regarding symptoms and quality of life. Yet, research regarding gender differences in partners of patients with COPD has been conducted to a lesser extent, and most research focused on female partners. We aimed to investigate differences between male and female partners of patients with COPD regarding their own characteristics and their perceptions of patients' characteristics. Design: Cross-sectional study. Setting: Four hospitals in the Netherlands. Participants: One hundred and eighty-eight patient-partner couples were included in this cross-sectional study. Measurements: General and clinical characteristics, health status, care dependency, symptoms of anxiety and depression, social support, caregiver burden, and coping styles were assessed during a home visit. Results: Female partners had more symptoms of anxiety and a worse health status than male partners. Social support and caregiver burden were comparable, but coping styles differed between male and female partners. Female partners thought that male patients were less care dependent and had more symptoms of depression, while these gender differences did not exist in patients themselves. Conclusion: Health care providers should pay attention to the needs of all partners of patients with COPD, but female partners in particular. Obtaining an extensive overview of the patient-partner couple, including coping styles, health status, symptoms of anxiety, and caregiver burden, is necessary to be able to support the couple as effectively as possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-104
JournalInternational journal of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • COPD
  • family caregiving
  • gender
  • partners


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