Reverberations of family illness: A longitudinal assessment of informal caregiving and mental health status in the nurses' health study

Carolyn C. Cannuscio, Camara Jones, Ichiro Kawachi, Graham A. Colditz, Lisa Berkman, Eric Rimm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

115 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objectives. This study examined the association between caregiving for disabled or ill family members, estimated to occur in more than 22 million US households, and change in mental health. Methods. We assessed 4-year change in mental health among 37 742 Nurses' Health Study participants with the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36. Results. Women who provided 36 or more weekly hours of care to a disabled spouse were almost 6 times more likely than noncaregivers to experience depressive or anxious symptoms (multivariate odds ratio [OR] = 5.6; 95% confidence interval [Cl] = 3.8, 8.3). Caring for a disabled or ill parent (≳36 weekly hours) was associated with a less dramatic elevation in depressive or anxious symptoms (multivariate OR=2.0; 95% Cl = 0.9, 4.3). Conclusions. In this population, caregiving was associated with increased risk of depressive or anxious symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1305-1311
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Volume92
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

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