Caregiver Stress and Mental Health: Impact of Caregiving Relationship and Gender

Gerontologist. 2016 Dec;56(6):1102-1113. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnv038. Epub 2015 Apr 17.


Purpose of the study: This study compared the stress and mental health implications of caregiving to a spouse, children, siblings, other family members, friends, and others among middle-aged and older male and female caregivers.

Design and methods: Multivariate regression analyses were conducted using 2007 Canadian General Social Survey data collected on a subsample of caregivers aged 45 and older.

Results: Our analyses revealed that for women, caring for a spouse or children was more stressful and detrimental to mental health than caring for parents or others. Similarly, for men, caring for a spouse and for children was more stressful than caring for others but did not adversely affect overall mental health.

Implications: The findings suggest that spousal and child caregiving tend to be more rather than less stressful and detrimental to middle-aged and older caregivers' mental health than is caregiving to most others but that gender differences need to be considered.

Keywords: Caregiving; Mental health; Spousal caregiving; Stress.

MeSH terms

  • Adult Children*
  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Parents*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Sex Factors
  • Siblings*
  • Spouses*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*