244188 Impact of informal caregiving on obesity and mental health

Monday, October 31, 2011

Heather D. Coffin, MSPH , Federal Health Care, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Atlanta, GA
Joseph Lipscomb, PhD , Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Zhou Yang, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Laura M. Gaydos, PhD , Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Kimberly J. Rask, MD, PhD , Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA
Background: Several health consequences have been associated with informal caregiving; however, caregiving's impact on obesity has not been evaluated. We examined the obesity and mental health burden of informal caregiving in a recent population-based US sample. Understanding and addressing this burden promotes healthy communities because informal caregivers provide essential long-term care that allows aging and disabled individuals to safely remain in their community. Methods: We analyzed the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data from DC, Illinois, Louisiana, and North Carolina (n=31,496). Using logistic regression, we examined the likelihood of being obese, and having at least one poor mental health day in the past month, conditional on caregiver status and controlling for demographics, socioeconomic status, health behaviors, healthcare access, and emotional support. We then added caregiving characteristics to this model and re-evaluated our outcomes among caregivers exclusively (n=3,946). Results: Caregivers had higher odds of being obese (OR=1.20, 95% CI 1.10,1.30) and of having at least one poor mental health day (OR=1.30, 95% CI 1.20,1.42) than non-caregivers. Among caregivers, caregiving burden (financial OR=1.93, 95% CI 1.41,2.65; social OR=1.98, 95% CI 1.43,2.74; physical OR=2.38, 95% CI 1.41,4.04; and psychological OR=2.70, 95% CI 2.16,3.38) was found to negatively influence mental health. Conclusions: Informal caregivers are a population at risk for obesity and diminished mental health. Increased support services may be needed to help caregivers offset these health risks. The observed physical health impact of caregiving suggests interventions should reach beyond mental health support, to also include physical health evaluation and education.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify caregiving characteristics associated with caregiversí diminished mental health. 2. Describe a comprehensive intervention plan to address caregiving health risks. 3. Explain the short-term and long-term policy implications of caregiving health risks.

Keywords: Caregivers, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I have carried out this original study as my Master of Science in Public Health thesis, and studied long term care policy and practice in my Master's program.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.