Dr. William Gallo, a professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, along with public health students Ms. Wendy Vaughon (DPH student) and Ms. Jennifer Kaufman (MPH student), and Mr. Aig Uniuigbe, an economics PhD student at CUNY studied evidence of the adverse health effects of caregiving on its providers, especially in regard to the physical and mental well-being of caregivers. The findings were published in the journal Work, Aging and Retirement.
[Photo: Dr. William Gallo]
The purpose of this study is to compare the health trajectories/trends of caregivers and non-caregivers before and after the caregivers begin to provide informal services.
In this study, the team focused on caregiving services provided to parents and parents-in-law. The team used data from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study and covers 11 waves of the survey from 1992 to 2012. These analyses used a sample of N = 19,943 observations (drawn from 1,813 unique individuals)
Using Hierarchical Linear Model (HLM) Methods, the research team compared trajectories of health outcomes for caregivers to those of non-caregivers. They examined trajectories related to general health, measures of mobility, motor skills, cognition, and measures of depression. In the analysis, they controlled for education, wealth, occupation, gender, marital status, and race.
For caregivers, there was a 0.027 (0.014 per year) increase in the mobility difficulty index and a 0.020 (0.010 per year) increase in large muscle movement difficulty index for every year after the commencement of caregiving, compared to non-caregivers. There was also a significant 0.7 percentage point increase in the probability of reporting a stroke and a 0.118 (0.059 per year) drop in the cognition summary score for each additional year after the start of caregiving.
This study investigates whether caregiving is a factor in the future health outcomes of those providing such care. These findings provide evidence that caregiving exerts physical and mental demands on the providers of such care and can lead to the significant changes in the patterns of health measures observed.