Applied Health Economics and Health Policy

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 347–355 | Cite as

Spillover Effects of Long-Term Disabilities on Close Family Members

  • Diana Pacheco Barzallo
Original Research Article



Care and support of people dealing with long-term disabilities involves the entire family.


This paper evaluates the effect of living with a relative dealing with a long-term disability on the health status of all family members in the household.


Using information from the Swiss household panel from the year 1999 to 2003 (n = 18,030), a linear regression is implemented to compare the health status of family members cohabiting with individuals dealing with a long-term disability with the health status of individuals of similar characteristics in the general population. Additionally, a non-parametric graphical analysis estimates the smooth patterns of the results over time.


Family members who cohabit with a person dealing with a long-term disability have a consistently reduced health status. The size of the impact depends on the sex and the role in the family. In general, women show the most negative effects. For children, the impact depends on the relationship with the disabled person.


Recognizing the presence of health spillovers can help to design policies to better support families. Being the perceived health status a good indicator of the use of health services and mortality, the health system should focus on the entire family, and not only on the patient or the main caregiver.


Data Availability Statement

The data that support the findings of this study are available at Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences FORS center (

Compliance with Ethical Standards


This research was conducted while the author worked as a research fellow at Swiss Paraplegic Research. This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Conflict of interest

Diana Pacheco declares no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Health Services, Statistics and Economics UnitSwiss Paraplegic ResearchNottwilSwitzerland

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