Adult child caregiver health trajectories and the impact of multiple roles over time

Res Aging. 2015 Apr;37(3):227-52. doi: 10.1177/0164027514527834. Epub 2014 Mar 27.


Guided by stress process and life course theory, the purpose of this study was to examine adult child caregivers' psychological and physical health trajectories and how their multiple family (caregiving, marital, and parenting) and nonfamily (employment) roles contributed to these health outcomes over time. Seven waves of data from the Health and Retirement Study were analyzed for 1,300 adult child caregivers using latent growth curve models. Adult child caregivers have distinct psychological and physical health trajectories that are related to their roles over time. The importance of any given role varies by the type of health outcome and timing in the life course. Caregiving alone does not contribute to adult child caregivers' psychological and physical health; marital and employment roles also contribute significantly to caregivers' life courses.

Keywords: caregiving; health and retirement study; latent growth model; life course.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Home Nursing / psychology*
  • Home Nursing / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Intergenerational Relations*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Support
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Young Adult