Developing a cultural model of caregiving obligations for elderly Chinese wives

Eleanor Holroyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


This article addresses the dilemmas of elderly Chinese women as spousal caregivers in Hong Kong in the 1990s. An in-depth ethnographic approach was used to draw on a convenience sample of 20 elderly wives who were caregivers from Hong Kong. At the conceptual level, the discussion highlights how caregiving is rooted in complex, culturally-based models of contemporary practices, sociohistoric patterns, and gender-specific obligations. The key themes identified were marital duty-bound roles and responsibilities, reciprocity and burden, public guidelines and upholding reputations as Chinese wives, monetary restrictions, affection as an emotional force to sustain caregiving, effects of the caregiving role, and the creation of self-identity through caregiving. The model proposed for interpreting elderly Chinese wives' caregiving obligations highlights the tension-filled links between Confucianism and government guidelines, early and ongoing socializing experiences, and self-identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)437-456
Number of pages20
JournalWestern Journal of Nursing Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Caregiving
  • Chinese
  • Cultural models
  • Elderly
  • Wives


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