Objectives: To analyze differences in the characteristics of care provided by women and men to dependent persons, and their association with the perception of health deterioration in both sexes.
Methods: We performed a nationwide cross-sectional study with data obtained from the 2008 Spanish Survey on Disability, Personal Autonomy and Dependence, based on a sample size of 7,512 principal caregivers. A descriptive analysis was performed of the characteristics of the care provided (tasks performed, intensity, frequency and duration) by sex. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was carried out to explore the association between the caregivers' perceptions of deteriorated health and the variables related to care, adjusted by sociodemographic characteristics.
Results: Most (74%) of the caregivers in the sample were women. Women more frequently perceived a deterioration in their health as a result of providing care than did men (37% and 21%, respectively). Women provided care with greater intensity and more frequently performed the tasks most associated with deteriorated health (personal hygiene, assistance in feeding, etc.). Men more frequently carried out tasks related to care outside the home (going to the doctor, shopping, etc.), all of which acted as a protective factor against health deterioration. The intensity of care was a risk factor for the perception of health deterioration in both sexes, while frequency and duration were also risk factors in women.
Conclusions: The greater health deterioration perceived by women is related to gender inequalities in the characteristics of the care provided. Interventions in informal caregivers should be sensitive to these gender inequalities.
Copyright © 2011 SESPAS. Published by Elsevier Espana. All rights reserved.