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How does peer similarity influence adult children caregivers' perceptions of support from peers? A mixed-method study

  • MARINA BASTAWROUS WASILEWSKI (a1), JENNIFER N. STINSON (a2), FIONA WEBSTER (a3) and JILL I. CAMERON (a1) (a4)

Abstract

Due to the growing elderly population, adult children care-givers (ACCs) are increasingly providing complex care for one or both elderly parents. Social support from similar peers can mitigate care-giving-related health declines. To date, ‘peer similarity’ amongst care-givers has been predominantly investigated in the context of peer-matching interventions. However, because peer similarity is especially influential in ‘naturally occurring’ support networks, care-givers' everyday peer support engagement warrants further attention. Our goal was to explore care-givers' everyday peer support engagement and the influence of peer similarity on support perceptions. We employed a mixed-method design using Web-based surveys and in-depth qualitative interviews. The quantitative data were analysed using a hierarchical multiple while qualitative data were thematically analysed. Seventy-one ACCs completed the online questionnaire and 15 participated in a telephone interview. Peer similarity was positively and significantly associated with perceived support (β = 0.469, p < 0.0005) and explained 18.5 per cent of the additional variance. ACCs' narratives suggested the most important aspect of similarity was ‘shared care-giving experience’ as it optimised the support received from peers, and also enhanced the quality of the relationship. In conclusion, both data-sets underscored that peer similarity importantly influences support perceptions. The importance of ‘shared care-giving experience’ suggests that a more comprehensive understanding of this concept is needed to optimise peer-matching endeavours. Peer similarity's influence on relationship quality should also be explored.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Marina Bastawrous Wasilewski, Rehabilitation Sciences Institute (RSI), Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 160–500 University Avenue, Toronto, ON M5G 1V7, Canada E-mail: marina.bastawrous@utoronto.ca

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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
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