Objectives: We used population-based data to evaluate whether caring for a child with health problems had implications for caregiver health after we controlled for relevant covariates.
Methods: We used data on 9401 children and their caregivers from a population-based Canadian study. We performed analyses to compare 3633 healthy children with 2485 children with health problems. Caregiver health outcomes included chronic conditions, activity limitations, self-reported general health, depressive symptoms, social support, family functioning, and marital satisfaction. Covariates included family (single-parent status, number of children, income adequacy), caregiver (gender, age, education, smoking status, biological relationship to child), and child (age, gender) characteristics.
Results: Logistic regression showed that caregivers of children with health problems had more than twice the odds of reporting chronic conditions, activity limitations, and elevated depressive symptoms, and had greater odds of reporting poorer general health than did caregivers of healthy children.
Conclusions: Caregivers of children with health problems had substantially greater odds of health problems than did caregivers of healthy children. The findings are consistent with the movement toward family-centered services recognizing the link between caregivers' health and health of the children for whom they care.