Health Outcomes of Family Caregivers: Examining the Role of Spirituality and Religion

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Health Outcomes of Family Caregivers: Examining the Role of Spirituality and Religion

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It is estimated that there are nearly 40 million family caregivers actively providing care for a loved one with a chronic illness in the United States today (American Association for Retired Persons, 2015). This number is projected to double by the year 2050, as our nation’s baby boomers become recipients of this care (Family Caregiving Alliance, 2016; Pollard & Scommenga, 2014). Family caregivers are at higher risk for negative emotional (e.g., depression, anxiety) and physical (e.g., heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis) health outcomes (Charles, Piazza, Mogle, Sliwinski, & Almeida, 2013; Li, Shaffer, & Bagger, 2015; Roth, Fredman, & Haley, 2015). The impacts that caregiving have on health outcomes are clear. Which factors put caregivers at higher risk for poor health outcomes is not as clear (Kane, 2011). What remains particularly understudied is how the spiritual and religious practices of caregivers influence their personal mental and physical health. This study advanced a secondary analysis on a longitudinal sample of caregivers aimed to understand how use of spirituality impacts mental and physical health outcomes. This subset of prospective data was taken from the National Survey of Midlife Development (n = 89), in 2004-2006, and 2014-2015. A predictive model showed that caregivers’ religious resources had an impact on their mental health. More specifically, use of private religious practices showed more positive mental health outcomes over other variables of religious resources. Implications for clinical practice and research are discussed.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2018. Major: Family Social Science. Advisor: Tai Mendenhall. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 96 pages.

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Trudeau, Stephanie. (2018). Health Outcomes of Family Caregivers: Examining the Role of Spirituality and Religion. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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