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Is caring associated with an increased risk of mortality? A longitudinal study

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  • O'Reilly, Dermot
  • Connolly, Sheelah
  • Rosato, Michael
  • Patterson, Chris

Abstract

Informal care is a fundamental component of care in the community which, given current demographic trends and increasing prevalence of debilitating chronic disease, is likely to assume even greater significance in future. Research indicates that caregivers are more likely than non-carers to report poor health, though this has usually been measured in terms of psychological or emotional health such as depression or 'caregiver strain'. Relatively little is known about the effects of caring on physical health. This study examines the health of caregivers recorded in the 2001 Northern Ireland Census and their subsequent mortality over the following four years. Caregivers were a heterogeneous group, with those providing fewer hours of care being relatively more affluent than those providing care at greater intensities. Overall, caregivers had lower mortality risks than non-carers and effects were more pronounced for women, older people, and for those reporting poorer health at the start of the study period. While this study does not exclude the possibility of significant detrimental health effects of caring for some sub-groups of caregivers, it does add support to the growing body of literature which suggests that the positive aspects of caring have been underreported.

Suggested Citation

  • O'Reilly, Dermot & Connolly, Sheelah & Rosato, Michael & Patterson, Chris, 2008. "Is caring associated with an increased risk of mortality? A longitudinal study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 67(8), pages 1282-1290, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:67:y:2008:i:8:p:1282-1290
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Irene Magaña & Pablo Martínez & María‐Soledad Loyola, 2020. "Health outcomes of unpaid caregivers in low‐ and middle‐income countries: A systematic review and meta‐analysis," Journal of Clinical Nursing, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 29(21-22), pages 3950-3965, November.
    2. Rebecca E Lacey & Anne McMunn & Elizabeth Webb, 2018. "Informal caregiving and markers of adiposity in the UK Household Longitudinal Study," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(7), pages 1-15, July.
    3. McNamara, Beverley & Rosenwax, Lorna, 2010. "Which carers of family members at the end of life need more support from health services and why?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 70(7), pages 1035-1041, April.
    4. Bauer, Jan Michael & Sousa-Poza, Alfonso, 2015. "Impacts of Informal Caregiving on Caregiver Employment, Health, and Family," IZA Discussion Papers 8851, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Rapp, Thomas & Grand, Alain & Cantet, Christelle & Andrieu, Sandrine & Coley, Nicola & Portet, Florence & Vellas, Bruno, 2011. "Public financial support receipt and non-medical resource utilization in Alzheimer's disease results from the PLASA study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(8), pages 1310-1316, April.
    6. Jacobs, Josephine C. & Lilly, Meredith B. & Ng, Carita & Coyte, Peter C., 2013. "The fiscal impact of informal caregiving to home care recipients in Canada: How the intensity of care influences costs and benefits to government," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 102-109.
    7. Miyawaki, Atsushi & Tanaka, Hirokazu & Kobayashi, Yasuki & Kawachi, Ichiro, 2019. "Informal caregiving and mortality―Who is protected and who is not? A prospective cohort study from Japan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 223(C), pages 24-30.

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