Personality Change Pre- to Post- Loss in Spousal Caregivers of Patients With Terminal Lung Cancer Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Neoplasms
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Suicidal Ideation


  • Personality is relatively stable in adulthood but could change in response to life transitions, such as caring for a spouse with a terminal illness. Using a case-control design, spousal caregivers (n=31) of patients with terminal lung cancer completed the NEO-FFI twice, 1.5 years apart, before and after the patient's death. A demographically-matched sample of community controls (n=93) completed the NEO-FFI on a similar timeframe. Based on research and theory, we hypothesized that bereaved caregivers would experience greater changes than controls in interpersonal facets of extraversion (sociability), agreeableness (prosocial, nonantagonistic), and conscientiousness (dependability). Consistent with hypotheses, bereaved caregivers experienced an increase in interpersonal orientation, becoming more sociable, prosocial, and dependable (Cohen's d = .48-.67), though there were no changes in nonantagonism. Changes were not observed in controls (ds ≤ .11). These initial findings underscore the need for more research on the effect of life transitions on personality.

publication date

  • January 2014



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed Central ID

  • PMC4299658

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/1948550614524448

PubMed ID

  • 25614779

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 722

end page

  • 729


  • 5


  • 6