Application of psychological theories on the role of gender in caregiving to psycho-oncology research

Youngmee Kim, Hannah Rose Mitchell, Amanda Ting

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Cancer affects both men and women, yet systematic understanding of the role of gender in caregiving and dyadic caregiver-patient interactions is lacking. Thus, it may be useful to review how gender theories apply to cancer caregiving and to evaluate the adequacy of current cancer caregiving studies to the gender theories. Methods: Several databases, including MEDLINE (Ovid), PsychINFO, PubMed, and CINAHL, were used for searching articles published in English between 2000 and 2016. The search was restricted by age (≥18) and yielded 602 articles, which were subject to further screen and review based on selection criteria. Of 108 full texts reviewed to determine inclusion eligibility for this review, 55 met the criteria and included for review. Results: The reviewed studies supported the “gender role” and “doing gender” perspectives for caregiver selection. The role identity, role strain, and transactional stress theories were supported for predicting caregiving outcomes at the individual level. Furthermore, attachment, self-determination, and interdependence theories incorporated caregiver factors that predicted the patients' outcomes, and vice versa. Conclusion: Despite limited gender theory-driven research in cancer caregiving and psycho-oncology in general, the utility of gender theories in (a) identifying subgroups of caregiver-patient dyads who are vulnerable to the adverse effects of cancer in the family and (b) developing evidence-based interventions is promising. Integrating broader issues of medical trajectory, lifespan, sociocultural, and biological factors in gender-oriented research and practice in psycho-oncology is encouraged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-254
Number of pages27
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • cancer
  • caregiving processes and outcomes
  • gender theories
  • gender/sex
  • oncology
  • psychological distress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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