Consequences of different types of informal caregiving for mental, self-rated, and physical health: longitudinal findings from the German Ageing Survey


PURPOSE: This study aims at extending current knowledge on consequences of informal caregiving by analyzing the influence of different caregiving types on mental, physical, and self-rated health longitudinally.

METHODS: Data from wave 2008, 2011, and 2014 of the nationally representative German Ageing Survey were used, drawing on 16,412 observations aged 40-95 years in fixed effects (FE) regression analyses. Three informal caregiving types (helping around the house, looking after someone, nursing care services), which we used as explanatory variables and four health outcomes (depressive symptoms, self-rated health, pulmonary function, and morbidity), were assessed with structured interviews and written questionnaires. FE regression analysis was used for our calculations.

RESULTS: Results revealed that none of the caregiving types was significantly associated with pulmonary function or morbidity. However, helping around the house and looking after someone were significantly associated with increased depressive symptoms. Additionally, all three types of informal caregiving were significantly associated with decreased self-rated health.

CONCLUSION: The results of this study indicate that the impact of care on health differs. First, it differs in dependence on the health outcome focused; only mental and self-rated health are negatively associated with care. Second, the impact depends on the caregiving type performed. This knowledge might help to develop support options which are specific to the caregiving type and the health aspects in order to reduce negative health consequences.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10.2018
PubMed 29956109