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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Washington Study Finds Caregiver Stress Depends Largely on Genes, Upbringing

Does caregiving cause stress? A new study from the University of Washington School of Public Health and Medicine found that associations between caregiving and different types of psychological distress depend largely on a person’s genes and upbringing, and less so on the difficulty of caregiving. The results break the long-held belief that caregiving directly causes stress, researchers said. The study, published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, focused on 1,228 female twins from the University of Washington Twin Registry, 188 of whom were caregivers. While exposure to caregiving may influence distress, especially anxiety, researchers found that caregivers reporting depression and poorer mental health were most influenced by genes. Perceived stress, meanwhile, was strongly determined by the kind of environment a person was raised in.