Sense of Coherence in partners to persons with Huntington’s disease

Objectives

Huntington’s disease (HD) is a progressive neuropsychiatric disease characterized by involuntary movements and behavioural symptoms. This study aimed to explore the association between the level of Sense of Coherence (SOC) and health problems, and psychological distress factors in partners to HD affected persons and their need of support.

Materials & Methods

A cross-sectional, descriptive, correlational design was used. Data was generated from 94 HD partners from almost all networks, outpatient clinics and nursing homes specialized in HD across Sweden. HD partners filled out questionnaires with scales measuring SOC, health problems, psychological distress factors and the Total Functional Capacity Scale (TFC). Non-parametric analysis was used to analyse group differences.

Results

Huntington’s disease partners with a lower level of SOC experienced more health problems than those with a higher level. Health problems among HD partners were most common among HD affected in TFC stage 3, indicating that the partners need most support during this period. Lower level of SOC was associated with loneliness in the relationship; less possibilities to socialize with friends; worries about the future as well as being subjected to physical aggression. The experience of physical aggression from the HD affected person was common (44.7%) and 28.6% of the partners expressed worries about being subjected to physical aggression.

Conclusion

Our findings suggest that knowledge about the partners’ SOC score may be a helpful indicator identifying HD partners who are more vulnerable and need additional help caring for the person with HD and can be a complementary tool in assessment protocols.

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