In many Arab countries including Qatar, the family as a social institution is thought to be the cornerstone of society. The family is particularly important for older individuals, especially when their physical and/or mental health declines to the point where they can no longer function independently. Once this happens, family members (e.g. spouse or child) often become informal caregivers for the individual requiring care (Chappell, McDonald, Lynn, & Stones, 2007). Caregiving often requires caregivers to acquire specialized knowledge unique to the needs of the individual they are caring for, meet with healthcare professionals at different stages of the caregiving process, and gain unique skills often associated with the work of healthcare professionals (Leiter, Krauss, Anderson, & Wells, 2004). Lastly, caregiving roles are ever changing as both the caregiver and care-receiver age and new challenges present themselves. There is an abundance of social research on the experiences of caregivers for aging individuals whose health status has declined. This existing research has primarily focused on the burdens of caregiving and the different strategies and resources caregivers use to cope with the demands of caregiving. Recently, research has suggested that while caregiving can be burdensome, many benefits can also result for caregivers from their caregiving experience (Corman, 2009). However none of this research has been conducted in Qatar and only a few studies have been done in the Arab region. This research gap is especially problematic since reports suggest that there are problems in older persons' care in Qatar (ESCWA, 2013).


This study addresses this aformentioned gap in social scientific inquiry by investigating the experiences of Qatari and non-Qatari caregivers in Qatar who provide care for older family members. More specifically, we focus on exploring the stresses and burdens of caregiving, coping strategies and resources of caregivers, and the benefits of caregiving. As such, this research focuses on the lived-experiences of caregivers and the consequences for caregivers (not only negative) that personal home caregivers experience when caregiving for elderly persons who require support.

Theoretical Framework and Method

One of the dominant models used in exploring the lived-experiences of caregivers is the stress process and coping-process models of Pearlin, Mullan, Semple and Skaff (1990) and Lazarus and Folkman (1984) respectively. Pearlin et al. (1990) provided a conceptual framework that looked at the stressors associated with caregiving; the model focuses on the many related relationships, and the developing and changing nature of these relationships over time, eventually leading to stressor-outcomes. This model of stress allows for the investigation of how conditions develop and are interrelated to each other. One way of dealing with stressors and the burdens of caregiving is to use a variety of resources and strategies that act as buffers against them. Lazarus and Folkman (1984) described coping as a shifting process that varies depending on the stressful encounter or experience, allowing for individuals to mediate the effects of stress on their well-being by managing both internal and external demands that are appraised as taxing (Kelso, French, & Fernandez, 2005; Folkman & Moskowitz, 2004). Folkman (1997) described coping as consisting of five different resources: social support networks, utilitarian resources, general and specific beliefs, problem-solving skills, and an individual's health, energy, and morale. In order to gain a more complete understanding of caregiving in Qatar, it is important to account for both the positive and stressful experiences of caregiving, in addition to coping strategies and resources utilized throughout the caregiving experience. The stress-coping process models of Pearlin et al. (1990) and Folkman and Lazarus (1984) were chosen as the conceptual framework because they allow for a scope that looks beyond adjustment and toward positives, thereby forcing attention to both the stressors and benefits of caregiving (Kelso et al., 2005; see also Corman, 2009). Because this study aimed to explore the lived-experiences of Qatari and non-Qatari caregivers caring for older family members in Qatar, this research employed a qualitative research design in order to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon under study; it relied mainly on participants' views of the situation being studied and draws attention to its complexity (Creswell, 2003). Aligned with qualitative research, this study therefore used an inductive approach to generating knowledge by beginning with interviews and moving towards identifying patterns based on the experiences of participants (Rudestam & Newton, 2001). The primary methodological approach used in this study was transcendental phenomenology as purported by Husserl (1970) and modified by Moustakas (1994). Transcendental phenomenology is a qualitative research strategy and philosophy that allows researchers to identify the essence of experience as it relates to certain phenomenon as described and understood by participants of a study (Creswell, 2003; Nieswiadomy, 1993). As Moerer-Urdahl and Creswell (2004) explained, this approach is valuable when a phenomenon is identified that needs further investigation and has individuals who are available to provide descriptions and insights into the phenomenon. Utilizing qualitative, semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions based on the methodological approach of transcendental phenomenology can assist in gaining a better understanding of the themes that arise in peoples' descriptions of the stressors, benefits, and coping strategies and resources for this sample of caregivers. With this said, phenomenology was chosen because of the researchers' intent to explore and gain a better understanding of lived-experiences of Qatar and non-Qatari caregivers in Qatar.


In total, we interviewed 22 Qatari and non-Qatari caregivers aging in range from 20–50 years. Two of the caregivers were male and 20 were female. The findings reported in this presentation/poster focus on the different stressors and joys of caregiving and coping strategies and resources caregivers discussed. We also discuss the implications from these findings.


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