Associations between informal care, disease, and risk factors: A Spanish country-wide population-based study

J Public Health Policy. 2016 May;37(2):173-89. doi: 10.1057/jphp.2016.3. Epub 2016 Feb 11.


This population-based study using 2011-2012 Spanish National Health Survey data aimed to measure the impact of disease, health-related habits, and risk factors associated with informal caregiving. We included and matched self-reported informal caregivers [ICs] with controls (1:4) from the same survey. For each outcome, we analyzed associations between ICs and controls using linear regression or logistic regression models. ICs had 3.4 per cent more depression (OR: 1.33, 95 per cent confidence intervals [CI]:1.06, 1.68). ICs had lower social support (95 per cent CI: 1.64, 3.28), they did more housework alone (OR:3.6, 95 per cent CI:2.65, 4.89), and had greater stress (95 per cent CI:0.13, 0.83). Women ICs caring alone had more anxiety than other groups. We found no statistical association between caregivers and worse health-related habits or increased risk factors (less physical activity, smoking, drinking, and cholesterol). Our results provide evidence that health-care professionals and organizations should recognize the importance of caring for those who care.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care / psychology*
  • Patient Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Support
  • Spain
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult