The Role of Anticipated Gains and Losses on Preferences About Future Caregiving

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Abstract

Objectives:

A growing amount of research has suggested that caregiving is not only associated with burden but entails also the potential for positive outcomes. By contrast, less is known about the roles of gain–loss-anticipations on future caregiving.

Method:

We conducted a web-based study in which we compared three groups with differing preferences on future caregiving: being willing to provide care (potential caregivers; n = 189), remaining indecisive about whether to provide care (undecided; n = 121), and rejecting the idea to provide care (unwilling; n = 62). In addition, actual caregivers (n = 113) served as a reality check for these expectations. We assessed gain–loss anticipations with a newly developed instrument (k = 12) and offer information on its reliability and validity.

Results:

Groups reveal different patterns of gain–loss-anticipations. Potential caregivers resembled actual caregivers and highlighted the potential benefits of caregiving, whereas those who were undecided or unwilling to provide care perceived fewer gains and more losses.

Conclusion:

Preferences about future caregiving are not described solely by socio-demographic aspects but are also colored by anticipations of both gains and losses. Findings point to the need to focus on motivational factors to enhance our understanding in the context of caregiving decisions.

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