Beyond care burden: associations between positive psychological appraisals and well-being among informal caregivers in Europe

  • Rebecca MaguireEmail author
  • Paul Hanly
  • Phil Maguire



The burden of caring for a family member or friend can have a negative impact on caregiver health and well-being, yet caring can also have positive consequences. Understanding the factors that may enhance caregiver well-being is merited.


We used data gathered from the European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS). Using complete case analysis followed by multiple imputation analysis, a series of multilevel regression models were developed to systematically explore the role of three distinct blocks of factors in predicting caregiver well-being as measured by the WHO-5 well-being index: (1) sociodemographic and health factors, (2) care and burden-related factors, and (3) psychological and social appraisals. Differences between frequent caregivers and the general population were also compared on all measures.


36,908 respondents took part in EQLS, with 4171 (11%) identifying as frequent carers. While frequent caregivers reported lower well-being compared to the remaining population, most were happy with the amount of time spent caring. Our model explained approximately 32% of variance in well-being scores. After examining the role of known risk factors, all positive psychological appraisals were associated with higher well-being (p < .001). In order of magnitude these were optimism, perceived autonomy, sense of purpose, resilience, and perceived levels of social inclusion. Self-rated health was the strongest predictor of well-being while female carers and those with high levels of various burden measures reported lower well-being.


Findings suggest that caregiver well-being is influenced by more than simply the burden of care. As well as attempting to reduce burden, interventions aimed at supporting caregivers could focus on fostering more positive appraisals to enhance well-being in this group.


Caregivers Informal care Psychological well-being Burden Optimism Resilience Autonomy 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

Ethical approval to conduct the current analysis was granted by Maynooth University (Reference Number SREC-2018-084). For the EQLS, all procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the EQLS survey (see [26] for details).

Research involving human and animal participants

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors; however, this does involve secondary analysis performed on a dataset that involved human participants.

Supplementary material

11136_2019_2122_MOESM1_ESM.docx (24 kb)
Supplementary Online Appendix 1 (DOCX 24 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyMaynooth UniversityMaynoothIreland
  2. 2.School of BusinessNational College of IrelandDublinIreland
  3. 3.Department of Computer ScienceMaynooth UniversityMaynoothIreland

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