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The effect of change in mental disorder status on change in spousal mental health: The HUNT study

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  • Idstad, Mariann
  • Røysamb, Espen
  • Tambs, Kristian

Abstract

Longitudinal research on caregiver burden related to mental disorders based on representative samples is scarce. Previous results on the development of burden over time are inconsistent. This article aims to establish whether change in mental disorder status in the index persons predicts subjective burden in their spouses in terms of changed mental health over a period of 11 years. We compared change in spousal mental health between four groups from a Norwegian population based sample of 9144 couples, in which the index persons suffered from mental disorder at the first, second, both, or none of the two measurement times. Mental disorder was defined by a high score on a measure of global mental health combined with self reported impaired functioning due to mental health problems. Spouses of index persons who suffered from mental disorder at the second but not the first measurement time reported moderately impaired mental health, but those spouses with few friends reported a more severe impairment. Spousal mental health in the other groups did not change significantly. Effect sizes were moderate. The findings suggest that spouses of mentally disordered individuals in general experience only moderate levels of burden, and that the transition into a caregiving role is the period in which spouses are vulnerable to negative effects on their mental health. The results point to the treatment of mental health problems in couples as a supplement or alternative to individual treatment.

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  • Idstad, Mariann & Røysamb, Espen & Tambs, Kristian, 2011. "The effect of change in mental disorder status on change in spousal mental health: The HUNT study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(9), pages 1408-1415.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:73:y:2011:i:9:p:1408-1415
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.07.032
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bjelland, Ingvar & Krokstad, Steinar & Mykletun, Arnstein & Dahl, Alv A. & Tell, Grethe S. & Tambs, K., 2008. "Does a higher educational level protect against anxiety and depression? The HUNT study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(6), pages 1334-1345, March.
    2. Martin Pinquart & Silvia Sörensen, 2003. "Associations of Stressors and Uplifts of Caregiving With Caregiver Burden and Depressive Mood: A Meta-Analysis," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 58(2), pages 112-128.
    3. Hirst, Michael, 2005. "Carer distress: A prospective, population-based study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 697-708, August.
    4. Taylor, Rex & Ford, Graeme & Dunbar, Martin, 1995. "The effects of caring on health: A community-based longitudinal study," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 1407-1415, May.
    5. Martin Pinquart & Silvia Sörensen, 2006. "Gender Differences in Caregiver Stressors, Social Resources, and Health: An Updated Meta-Analysis," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 61(1), pages 33-45.
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    1. Yu, Yu & Liu, Zi-Wei & Li, Tong-Xin & Li, Yi-Lu & Xiao, Shui-Yuan & Tebes, Jacob Kraemer, 2020. "Test of the stress process model of family caregivers of people living with schizophrenia in China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 259(C).
    2. Jhang, Fang-Hua, 2020. "Uncontrollable and controllable negative life events and changes in mental health problems: Exploring the moderation effects of family support and self-efficacy in economically disadvantaged adolescen," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 118(C).

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