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European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 175–185 | Cite as

Parental disability, parent care, and offspring mental health outcomes

  • Douglas A. Wolf
  • Kerri M. Raissian
  • Emily Grundy
Original Investigation

Abstract

Decades of research supports a widely held view that providing parent care is stressful, and that these stresses are associated with adverse mental health outcomes. However, some recent studies suggest an additional possibility, namely that “noncaregiver stress”—a consequence of having a parent with major care needs, but not being an active caregiver—may be a serious problem as well. This finding emerges in data which permit separate controls for parental needs for care and offspring provision of parent care. We extend these results using Generations and Gender Programme data from five countries—Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Romania, and Russia—for which the necessary variables can be comparably measured. Our outcome variable is a depression score based on a 7-item scale. In country-specific regressions, we find two instances of statistically significant associations of depression with the regular provision of personal care to a parent with care needs, i.e., the usual “caregiver stress” result. However, we also find two instances of statistically significant differences in respondents’ depressive symptoms that are associated with having a parent with care needs, i.e., instances of “noncaregiver stress.” We find limited evidence of gender-specific responses to both forms of stress. Our evidence supports both the typical caregiver stress response and the less-studied noncaregiver stress response, which suggests the need for additional research.

Keywords

Informal care Caregiver stress Parent care Comparative study 

Notes

Acknowledgments

An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1st GGP User Conference, May 23–24 2011, in Budapest. We have received helpful comments from conference participants, Aat Liefbroer, the editor, and two anonymous referees.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas A. Wolf
    • 1
  • Kerri M. Raissian
    • 2
  • Emily Grundy
    • 3
  1. 1.Syracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA
  2. 2.University of ConnecticutWest HartfordUSA
  3. 3.London School of EconomicsLondonUK

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