Temporal profiles of physical health in family members of heart transplant recipients: Predictors of health change during caregiving. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study examined patterns of change in the physical health and well-being of 133 family caregivers to heart transplant recipients during the 1st year after transplant. Caregivers were assessed at 2, 7, and 12 months after transplant. Cluster analysis was used to identify temporal profiles reflecting unique patterns of change in the direction and nature of caregivers' physical health; their temporal profiles showed either (a) a worsening of general medical condition, with weight gain (14% of the sample); (b) worsening medical condition with weight loss (15%); (c) weight gain with stable medical condition (41%); (d) weight loss with slightly improving medical condition (21%); or (e) worsening health perceptions with relatively little objective evidence of change in medical condition or weight (8%). Subsequent multivariate analyses indicated that caregiver characteristics measured at baseline and reflecting caregiving burden, coping styles, demographics, and health history reliably predicted membership in the pattern-of-health-change groups. Among the findings, caregivers who showed a pattern of medical decline with weight loss had a poorer health history and weaker coping styles (lower mastery and higher use of avoidance coping) than other caregivers. Caregivers who experienced medical decline with weight gain had the greatest levels of caregiver burden. These findings are relevant to the design of interventions to maximize not only caregivers' health, but the health of the family members for whom they provide care.


  • Dew, Mary Amanda
  • Goycoolea, Jean M
  • Stukas, Arthur A
  • Switzer, Galen E
  • Simmons, Roberta G
  • Roth, Loren H
  • DiMartini, Andrea

publication date

  • June 16, 1998