Guided by the role strain and the role enhancement theories, this study examined the effect of caregivers' multiple roles, such as being employed and taking care of minors in their household, on their psychological adjustment. Of the caregivers who completed the American Cancer Society's Quality of Life Survey for Caregivers, 457 caregivers who were middle-aged (18-64) and provided complete data for the study variables were included in the analyses. The indicators of the outcome variables, namely, the levels of the caregivers' psychological adjustment, were cancer caregiving stress, management of meaning out of providing care, and negative and positive affect. Multivariate general linear modeling analyses revealed that employed caregivers who were also taking care of children reported higher levels of caregiving stress and negative affect. In contrast, employed caregivers who were not taking care of children reported greater levels of managing meaning of caregiving experience. The findings provide partial support for the role strain theory, that the more social roles a caregiver carries out, the more likely the caregiver is to experience stress and negative affect. The findings also suggest that when providing care for cancer survivors, caregivers may benefit from being employed. These findings have significant implications for developing targeted programs to reduce the psychological distress of cancer caregivers with multiple roles and to assist them in recognizing their caregiving experience as meaningful.
Copyright 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.