Differences between caregivers and noncaregivers in psychological health and physical health: a meta-analysis

Psychol Aging. 2003 Jun;18(2):250-67. doi: 10.1037/0882-7974.18.2.250.


Providing care for a frail older adult has been described as a stressful experience that may erode psychological well-being and physical health of caregivers. In this meta-analysis, the authors integrated findings from 84 articles on differences between caregivers and noncaregivers in perceived stress, depression, general subjective well-being, physical health, and self-efficacy. The largest differences were found with regard to depression (g = .58), stress (g = .55), self-efficacy (g = .54), and general subjective well-being (g = -.40). Differences in the levels of physical health in favor of noncaregivers were statistically significant, but small (g = .18). However, larger differences were found between dementia caregivers and noncaregivers than between heterogeneous samples of caregivers and noncaregivers. Differences were also influenced by the quality of the study, relationship of caregiver to the care recipient, gender, and mean age of caregivers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology