Exploring perceptions of patient-informal caregiver dyads on communication and collaboration around chronic illness management

This qualitative study explores chronic illness management among patient-informal caregiver dyads. Expanding on studies characterized by chronic heart failure (Trivedi, 2017) and depression (Risbud et al., 2017), the research question asked: How do individuals in patient-informal caregiver dyad relationships characterized by varying chronic illnesses communicate and collaborate around management? Seven patient-informal caregiver dyads who were in partnerships or marriages participated in open-ended, semi-structured interviews. Grounded theory analytic techniques such as open and focused coding were used to ensure rigor in data analysis. Findings were that communication and collaboration were key to illness management, including expressions of love and humor, as well as teamwork in decision-making and treatment planning. Unexpected emerging themes included coping through art and making meaning of illness. Future research would benefit from diversity in dyad sampling regarding race, ethnicity, age, sexuality, and types of illnesses studied. More focus is needed on expressions of love and creativity in managing chronic illness. Keywords: [chronic illness, informal caregivers, couples, management, communication, collaboration, making meaning]