Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a neurodegenerative disorder two to three times more common in women than in men. Most people with MS require assistance with daily activities, which is mainly offered by informal caregivers. Although the increasing literature about informal caregiving, important gaps remain in the understanding of the caregivers’ experiences, particularly those of male caregivers.
The purpose of the present qualitative study was to extend past research by providing in-sight into the meaning of the experience of male caregivers living with a partner with MS. To this aim, twenty-one men were in-depth interviewed. Four key themes emerged: caregiving as a full-time job; changes within and out of the couple after the diagnosis; anxiety and fear of the future, related mainly to the unpredictability of the course of MS; gender specificities. Taken together, results highlight the complexity of issues surrounding such form of caregiving and can help in developing interventions to support male spousal caregivers to care for their partners. More specific implications are discussed.
Keywords: Informal caregiving, gender, multiple sclerosis, qualitative research.