Predictors of depression and life satisfaction among spousal caregivers in hospice: application of a stress process model

J Palliat Med. 2003 Apr;6(2):215-24. doi: 10.1089/109662103764978461.


Using a stress process model, risk factors (caregiving stressors, caregiver health, and negative social interactions) and protective factors (caregiving appraisals and social resources) were examined as predictors of family caregiver well-being (depression and life satisfaction). Eighty spousal caregivers of hospice patients with dementia or lung cancer completed structured interviews and self-report measures assessing components of the stress process model. Results suggest that objective measures of patient impairment or amount of care provided are not strong predictors of caregiver depression or life satisfaction. Female gender, caregiver health problems, and negative social interactions were risk factors for poorer caregiver well-being. Caregivers who subjectively appraised caregiving tasks as less stressful, who found meaning and subjective benefits from caregiving, and with more social resources had lower depression and higher life satisfaction, even after controlling for patient impairment and caregiver appraisal variables. Regression models accounted for 42% of variance in caregiver depression and 52% of variance in caregiver life satisfaction. Counseling for hospice family caregivers could utilize the stress process framework, and pay particular attention to finding meaning or subjective benefits from caregiving, and remaining active in social roles. Further research providing evidence on caregiver risk and protective factors could improve the conceptual and empirical basis for psychosocial interventions for hospice family caregivers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Hospice Care / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological