Extremely Distant and Incredibly Close: Physical Proximity, Emotional Attachment and Caregiver Burden

Eva Bei*, Karin Mashevich, Orit Rotem-Mindali, Shira Galin-Soibelman, Ofra Kalter-Leibovici, Tami Schifter, Noa Vilchinsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Informal caregivers are at risk of caregiver burden, and physical proximity to the care recipient may add to this negative outcome. Yet, individual differences in emotional proximity to the care recipient such as attachment orientations may contribute to caregivers’ comfort towards different degrees of physical proximity, leading to varying levels of burden. The current study is the first to explore the role of physical proximity on caregiver burden as moderated by attachment orientations. A sample of 162 Israeli caregivers who are active users of the Camoni website completed our online survey. Sociodemographic characteristics, including a self-reported questionnaire on the physical proximity to the care recipient, were collected. Caregivers’ attachment orientations were assessed with the Experiences in Close Relationships–Relationship Structures questionnaire. Caregiver burden was assessed using the Caregiver Burden Inventory. Multiple regression and simple slope analyses were conducted. Attachment anxiety and avoidance were positively associated with burden, whereas physical proximity was not. Attachment avoidance, but not attachment anxiety, moderated the association between physical proximity and caregiver burden, with caregivers who live closer to their care recipient experiencing greater burden when high levels of avoidance were present. Our findings reveal the complex dynamics between attachment orientations and physical proximity in the context of informal care, highlighting the need for better integration of these two interlinked constructs in both care research and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8722
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number14
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Funding

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme
H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions814072

    Keywords

    • attachment orientations
    • caregiver burden
    • informal care
    • physical proximity

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