Caregiver Stress and Noncaregiver Stress: Exploring the Pathways of Psychiatric Morbidity

Anna A. Amirkhanyan, Douglas A. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study examines depressive symptoms among adult children of elderly parents; it views the parents' care needs and child's care activities as two separate stressors, different combinations of which may affect both caregiving and noncaregiving family members. Design and Methods: A sample of 4,380 women and 3,965 men from the first wave of the Health and Retirement Study was analyzed by use of four alternative forms of multiple regression analysis. Using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale, respondents reported on their depressive symptoms, as well as on parental disability and care provided by themselves, their spouses, and siblings. Results: Noncaregivers reporting severe parental disability were significantly more likely to experience depression symptoms. Evidence of increased manifestations of depression was not found among those caring for severely disabled relatives; nor was it found among those providing care in the absence of severe parental care needs. Having a caregiving sibling was associated with increased CES-D scores among noncaregivers. Implications: In the current literature, personal care needs of a close relative are named among significant disturbances in the lives of caregivers. By extending this approach to members of a family network regardless of caregiver status, this study allows us to distinguish the magnitude of negative outcomes of serious parental care needs while clarifying the impact uniquely attributable to caregiving activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)817-827
Number of pages11
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Caregiver's family
  • Informal care
  • Parental care needs
  • Positive and negative consequences of care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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