The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3033.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 9:45 AM

Abstract #66160

Emotional distress among informal caregivers: Longitudinal analysis of Canada's National Population Health Survey

Jill I. Cameron, MSc1, Donna E. Stewart, MD, FRCPC2, George A. Tomlinson, PhD1, and Angela M Cheung, MD PhD1. (1) University Health Network Women's Health Program, University of Toronto, 657 University Ave., ML2-008, Toronto, ON M5G 2N2, Canada, 416-340-4800-6986,, (2) Women's Health Program, University Health Network, Toronto General Hospital, 657 University Ave., ML/2-004, Toronto, ON M5G 2N2, Canada

Background: Existing research suggests that informal caregivers experience more emotional distress than non-caregivers. Unfortunately this literature is plagued by five common limitations: convenience samples, small sample size, cross-sectional studies, focus on age-dependent disability, and limited use of comparison groups. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to determine the influence of situational and psychosocial factors on informal caregivers’ mental health as compared to a matched non–caregiving group in a large representative population based longitudinal cohort study. Methods: We used Canada’s longitudinal National Population Health Survey (NPHS) to compare informal caregivers (n = 800) with a non-caregiving group (n = 748), matched with respect to sex, age, education, and marital status. Standardized measures included the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, Health Utilities Index, Self-Reported Health, Mastery, and Self-esteem. Mixed effects models for longitudinal data analysis were used. Results: Caregivers experienced more emotional distress if they were male, younger, had lower personal mastery, were in poorer general and subjective health, or were providing care to individuals with more co-morbidity. No significant differences in emotional distress were observed at the bivariate level between caregivers and a matched non-caregiving sample. Differences remained non-significant after controlling for potential differences between groups, including general and subjective health, and mastery. Interpretation: Informal caregivers residing in the community who were not recruited through clinical or service agencies were not more distressed than a matched comparison group. This study highlights the importance of examining social issues, such as informal caregiving, in representative national population surveys.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Caregivers, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Behavior, Lifestyle and Social Determinants of Health: Session I

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA