Moderating Role of Attachment Orientation in the Association between the Level of Depressive Symptoms and Informal Support among Hospitalized Older Adults

Nurit Gur-Yaish, Ksenya Shulyaev, Anna Zisberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Close family members or friends support hospitalized older adults in many countries. This support might act as a protective factor against the adverse consequences of hospitalization. However, individual differences might interfere with the ability to gain from this kind of support, especially if the patient in question is suffering from a high level of depression. This study explores how attachment predispositions shape the relationship between depression and informal support in the hospital setting. Methods: A short version of the attachment orientation questionnaire and the level of depression questionnaire were completed by 387, age M(SD) = 75.4(7.1) hospitalized older adults at admission. The number of hours informal caregivers stayed in the hospital and support received were collected for up to three consecutive hospitalization days. Results: Both attachment anxiety (t = −2.47, p =.01) and avoidance (t = −2.17, p =.03) moderated the relationship between depression and hours of support. Post hoc analysis revealed that older adults with high levels of attachment anxiety and avoidance received fewer hours of support under conditions of high depression (t = −3.04, p =.003; t = −2.92, p =.004, respectively). There were no significant results for received support. Conclusions: The study results emphasize the relevance of attachment orientation to caregiving relations in health-related contexts and call for awareness of the effect that level of depression combined with attachment orientation can have during hospitalization. Clinical implications: Assessing attachment orientation and depression in hospitalized elders might be useful for identifying older adults at risk for insufficient informal support during hospitalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-168
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was partially supported by seed money from HaEmek Medical Center and the Cheryl Spencer Research Center at the Nursing Department of the University of Haifa. The funding organizations were not involved in the design of the study, collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Caregiving
  • attachment
  • depression
  • hospitalization
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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