Caregiving reduces mortality risk for most caregivers: a census-based record linkage study

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Abstract

Importance Countries with advanced welfare systems are increasingly relying on the input of informal caregivers and there are growing concerns for their mental and physical wellbeing. However, the evidence about the relationship between caregiving and mortality risk is less clear.

Methods A census-based record linkage study with mortality follow-up of thirty-three months. A total of 1,122,779 individuals including 183,842 caregivers, of whom 28.2% (51,927) were providing fifty or more hours caregiving per week.

Results Over thirty-three months of follow-up a total of 29,335 deaths occurred, with 2,443 of these to caregivers. Mortality risk for caregivers was lower than for non-caregivers (HR= 0.72: 95%CI=0.69, 0.75 in the fully adjusted model), and the lower risk was evident even for those providing fifty or more hours of caregiving per week (adjusted Hazard Ratio=0.77: 95%CI=0.71, 0.83 and 0.76: 95%CI=0.69, 0.83 for men and women respectively). There was no evidence that this relationship varied by either age or marital status. Even amongst people with chronic health problems such as poor mental health, caregivers had lower mortality risk than non-caregivers. Caregiving is associated with reduced mortality risk for most causes - for example, the risk of death from Ischaemic Heart Disease for caregivers providing fifty or more hours was 27% and 31% lower for men and for women respectively compared to non-caregivers (HR=0.73: 95%CI=0.60, 0.88 and HR=0.69: 95%CI=0.51, 0.92).

Conclusions This large population-based study confirms that for the majority of caregivers the beneficial effects of caregiving in terms of short-term mortality risk appear to outweigh any negative effects, even amongst people with significant health problems. These results underscore the need for a reappraisal of how caregiving is perceived.


Keywords: caregiving, carers, mortality, longitudinal follow-up.
marital status. Even amongst people with chronic health problems such as poor mental health, caregivers had lower mortality risk than non-caregivers. Caregiving is associated with reduced mortality risk for most causes - for example, the risk of death from Ischaemic Heart Disease for caregivers providing fifty or more hours was 27% and 31% lower for men and for women respectively compared to non-caregivers (HR=0.73: 95%CI=0.60, 0.88 and HR=0.69: 95%CI=0.51, 0.92).

Conclusions This large population-based study confirms that for the majority of caregivers the beneficial effects of caregiving in terms of short-term mortality risk appear to outweigh any negative effects, even amongst people with significant health problems. These results underscore the need for a reappraisal of how caregiving is perceived.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1959
Number of pages40
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Volume44
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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