The influence of spouses and their driving roles in self-regulation: a qualitative exploration of driving reduction and cessation practices amongst married older adults

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Introduction There is growing evidence to suggest the importance of self-regulatory practices amongst older adults to sustain mobility. However, the decision to self-regulate driving is a complex interplay between an individual’s preference and the influence of their social networks including spouse. To our best knowledge, the influence of an older adult’s spouse on their decisions during driving transition has not been explored. Materials and methods This qualitative descriptive study was conducted amongst married older adults aged 60 years and above. All interview responses were transcribed verbatim and examined using thematic approach and interpretative description method. Results A total of 11 married couples were interviewed. Three major themes emerged: [1] Our roles in driving; [2] Challenges to continue driving; and, [3] Our driving strategies to ensure continued driving. Older couples adopted driving strategies and regulated their driving patterns to ensure they continued to drive safely. Male partners often took the active driving role as the principal drivers, while the females adopted a more passive role, including being the passenger to accompany the principal drivers or becoming the co-driver to help in navigation. Other coping strategies include sharing the driving duties as well as using public transportation or mixed mode transportation. Discussion Our findings suggest spouse play a significant role in their partners’ decision to self-regulate driving. This underscores a need to recognise the importance of interdependency amongst couples and its impact on their driving decisions and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0232795
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

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