The impact of family and non-family roles on caregiver health over time.

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The impact of family and non-family roles on caregiver health over time.

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Using stress process and life course theory, this dissertation investigated pathways of adult child caregivers' family (caregiving, marital, parenting) and non-family (employment) roles and their relation to caregiver psychological and physical health over time. Eight waves of data (1992-2006) from the Health and Retirement Study were analyzed for 1,300 adult child caregivers. Latent class analysis provided strong substantive and statistical evidence for a 4-class model of caregivers' role pathways. The four pathways were (a) Married, Working Caregivers (22.5%), (b) Married, Retired Caregivers with Co-Residing Child (12.5%), (c) Married, Retired Caregivers (30.5%), and (d) Not Married, Retired Caregivers (34.6%). Married, Working Caregivers, who were more likely to be male, White, and younger than most other pathways, had more optimal psychological and subjective physical health, but were more likely to have high blood pressure compared to caregivers in other pathways. Results suggest that (a) adult child caregivers have distinct family and non-family role pathways, (b) caregivers' gender, race/ethnicity, and age predict pathway membership, and (c) caregivers' role pathways are connected to psychological and physical health over time. Future research should explore how adult child caregivers' role pathways structurally differ for male versus female and younger versus older caregivers to further explain the heterogeneity of adult child caregivers' role pathways. Family practitioners may be helpful in identifying practices and policies that help adult child caregivers manage their diverse range of long-term family and non-family roles.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2011. Major: Family Social Science. Advisor: Marlene S. Stum. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 145 pages, appendices I-II.

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