270919 Caregiving intensity and health impacts: Magnification of effects by income and employment status

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 1:15 PM - 1:30 PM

Steven A. Cohen, DrPH, MPH , Department of Epidemiology and Community Health, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, VA
In 2009, there were over 60 million unpaid, informal caregivers providing invaluable care to older adults in the US. It is well-known that informal caregiving by family members to older adults has profound benefits to both the health care system and to society. However, informal caregiving has numerous negative impacts on the health of the caregiver, especially in caregivers who provide more extensive care, often precipitated by employment and family-related stress. Building on recent research, the purpose of this study is to determine, among informal caregivers, how caregiving intensity, as measured by hours caregiving per week and an index of specific functions involved in caregiving, is associated with health outcomes, including general health, preventive health behaviors, and nutrition in a large, nationally representative sample of adults. This study then examines how these associations are modified by income and employment. We abstracted over 7,000 caregiver records from the 2009 and 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System who were administered the Caregiver Module. Using generalized linear models to model three representative outcomes, overall health status, exercise status, fruit and vegetable consumption, we found general associations between caregiving intensity and each of the outcomes, and stronger associations between outcomes and caregiving intensity in lower income individuals and for those employed full-time. We observed what could be described as a threshold effect of income, unique to each outcome. The findings of this study could be used to target high-risk informal caregivers for programs and services to mitigate the harmful health effects of informal caregiving.

Learning Areas:
Biostatistics, economics
Occupational health and safety
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the population profile of caregiving intensity by demographics- age, gender, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and health status using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. 2. Identify how income and employment status modify the established associations between caregiving intensity, as measured by hours per week spent providing care, and specific health outcomes and health behaviors, including general health, exercise, and nutrition. 3. Discuss potential strategies to target at-risk caregivers to mitigate the effects of high-intensity caregiving on the caregivers.

Keywords: Caregivers, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed and conducted the relevant statistical analysis and wrote associated report and abstract for submission.
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.