The Impact of Informal Caregiving on Physical and Mental Health Open Access

Coffin, Heather Dawn (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/j098zb153?locale=en
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Abstract


Abstract
The Impact of Informal Caregiving on Physical and Mental Health
By Heather Dawn Coffin
Informal caregivers provide essential long-term care that allows aging and disabled
individuals to safely remain in their community; however, previous studies have found that
informal caregiving has health consequences for the caregiver. A growing need for informal
caregivers is being driven by increased longevity and a desire for non-institutionalized care.
A stronger understanding of caregiving consequences at a national level is needed to inform
caregiver support policies. We examined the physical and mental health burden of informal
caregiving in a recent population-based US sample. We analyzed the 2009 Behavioral Risk
Factor Surveillance System data from DC, Illinois, Louisiana, and North Carolina
(n=31,715). Using logistic regression, we examined the likelihood of being obese, having
high blood pressure, and having poor mental health days, conditional on caregiver status and
controlling for demographics, socioeconomic status, health behaviors, healthcare access, and
emotional support. We then studied how the medical condition of the care recipient impacts
caregiver health. We found caregivers had higher odds of being obese and of having poor
mental health days than non-caregivers. Among caregivers, caregiving burden and caregiving
activity were found to negatively influence mental health. In conclusion, 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 that interventions should reach beyond mental health support,
to also include physical health evaluation and education.


The Impact of Informal Caregiving on Physical and Mental Health
By
Heather Dawn Coffin
BS, Humanities and Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2007
Thesis Committee Chair: Joseph Lipscomb, PhD
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the
Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University
in partial fulfil ment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Science in Public Health
in Health Policy and Health Services Research
2011

Table of Contents



Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Literature Review INTRODUCTION CAREGIVER BURDEN HEALTH EFFECTS COMPARISONS ACROSS CARE RECIPIENT CONDITIONS CONCLUSION 3. Methods DATASET RESEARCH DESIGN DATA ANALYSIS 4. Results DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS ANALYSIS RESULTS 5. Discussion KEY FINDINGS CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS PROGRAM AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS LIMITATIONS FUTURE RESEARCH 6. Conclusion Appendix

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