Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Kevin Geoffroy


This study investigated burden in a convenience, nonrandom sample of 120 spousal caregivers of cardiac patients, who resided at home in the Richmond, VA area, had health insurance, and received medical care from private providers. Using Vitaliano's theory that burden is a function of stressors and personal vulnerability moderated by psychological resources and social supports, the study examined the relationships between those five constructs.;Burden was measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory and Montgomery's Scales of Objective and Subjective Burden. The Hassles and Uplifts Scales was used to measure stressors; demographic data and the Self control, Responsibility, Socialization, Psychological Mindedness, Tolerance, Flexibility, Self acceptance, and Achievement via conformance scales of the CPI, to measure personal vulnerability; the Ways of Coping Questionnaire, psychological resources; Vaux's SS-B, the availability of social supports; and ORIENT, the willingness to utilize social supports.;Four research hypotheses based on Vitaliano's theory were investigated. Although the data conclusively supported only one, i.e., that low vulnerability scores would have positive correlations with high scores on social support, they did appear to support a multicausal explanation for the development of burden. Variables within each of the constructs had practical and statistical significance in correlation with the burden variables. Significant relationships existed between the three burden measures and certain variables: the appraised severity of the stressors; age, education, and income; the personality traits of responsibility, self-acceptance, flexibility, self control and psychological mindedness, as measured by those CPI scales; the use of escape/avoidance and/or planful problem solving as coping styles; the availability of social supports; and the willingness to use those supports. Personal vulnerability also had a significant relationship with how stressed individuals used their social supports. The data suggested that the three types of burden were affected differently by the variables. One unexpected finding was that frequency of hassles had a weak, but significant, negative relationship with burden. Despite that finding, it was concluded that the biopsychosocial model offered a valid explanation for the development of burden.



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