Parental disability, parent care, and offspring mental health outcomes

Douglas A. Wolf, Kerri M. Raissian, Emily Grundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Decades of research supports a widely held view that providing parent care is stressful, and that these stresses are associated with adverse mental health outcomes. However, some recent studies suggest an additional possibility, namely that “noncaregiver stress”—a consequence of having a parent with major care needs, but not being an active caregiver—may be a serious problem as well. This finding emerges in data which permit separate controls for parental needs for care and offspring provision of parent care. We extend these results using Generations and Gender Programme data from five countries—Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Romania, and Russia—for which the necessary variables can be comparably measured. Our outcome variable is a depression score based on a 7-item scale. In country-specific regressions, we find two instances of statistically significant associations of depression with the regular provision of personal care to a parent with care needs, i.e., the usual “caregiver stress” result. However, we also find two instances of statistically significant differences in respondents’ depressive symptoms that are associated with having a parent with care needs, i.e., instances of “noncaregiver stress.” We find limited evidence of gender-specific responses to both forms of stress. Our evidence supports both the typical caregiver stress response and the less-studied noncaregiver stress response, which suggests the need for additional research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-185
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 7 2015


  • Caregiver stress
  • Comparative study
  • Informal care
  • Parent care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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