Quality of Life Research

, Volume 26, Issue 12, pp 3239–3250 | Cite as

Internal resources among informal caregivers: trajectories and associations with well-being




The experiences, skills, and internal resources that informal caregivers bring into their role may play a critical part in their mental health and well-being. This study examined how caregiver internal resources changed over a 10 year period, and how this was related to caregivers’ well-being.


Data are from the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study, a national sample of adults, at two time points: 1995–1996 (T1) and 2004–2006 (T2). We identified subjects who reported being a caregiver at T2 and starting care after T1 (mean age = 56; 65% female). We examined internal resources: sense of control (personal mastery); primary and secondary control strategies (persistence in goal striving, positive reappraisal, and lowering expectations); and social support seeking, and psychological and subjective well-being. We evaluated how internal resources changed over time, and how these trajectories were associated with well-being at T2 using multivariable linear regressions.


Most caregivers had stable levels of internal resources (between 4 and 13% showed an increase or decrease). Caregivers with increasing or high-stable levels of personal mastery had significantly better well-being scores on 6 out of 8 subscales compared with low-stable levels [effect sizes (ES) between 0.39 and 0.79]. Increasing persistence was associated with better personal growth and environmental mastery (ES = 0.96 and 0.91), and increasing and high-stable positive reappraisals were associated with better affect (ES = 0.63 and 0.48) compared with low-stable levels. Lowering aspirations and support seeking were not associated with well-being outcomes.


Practices or interventions that support or improve internal resources could potentially improve caregiver well-being.


Caregiver MIDUS Resources Mastery Control Social support seeking Longitudinal 



The MIDUS 1 study (Midlife in the U.S.) presented here was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development. The MIDUS 2 research study was supported by a Grant from the National Institute on Aging (P01-AG020166) to conduct a longitudinal follow-up research of the MIDUS 1 investigation.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 74 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.National Cancer InstituteRockvilleUSA

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