Correlates of physical health of informal caregivers: a meta-analysis

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2007 Mar;62(2):P126-37. doi: 10.1093/geronb/62.2.p126.


Effects of caregiving on physical health have received less theoretical and empirical attention than effects on psychological health. This meta-analysis integrates results from 176 studies on correlates of caregiver physical health. Caregiver depressive symptoms had stronger associations with physical health than did objective stressors. Higher levels of care recipient behavior problems were more consistently related to poor caregiver health than were care receiver impairment and intensity of caregiving. Higher age, lower socioeconomic status, and lower levels of informal support were related to poorer health. Predictors of physical health are not identical to predictors of psychological health. Associations of caregiving stressors with health were stronger among older samples, dementia caregivers, and men. In sum, negative effects of caregiving on physical health are most likely to be found in psychologically distressed caregivers facing dementia-related stressors.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Class
  • Spouses
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*