Parental Caregiving for a Child with Special Needs, Marital Strain, and Physical Health: Evidence from National Survey of Midlife in the U.S. 2005
Family Relationships and Familial Responses to Health Issues
ISBN: 978-1-78441-015-5, eISBN: 978-1-78441-014-8
Publication date: 13 October 2014
Guided by a life course theoretical perspective, this study aimed to examine associations between providing caregiving for a young or adult son or daughter with special needs and multiple dimensions of physical health status among married midlife and older adults, as well as moderation of these associations by gender and marital quality (i.e., marital strain).
Regression models were estimated using data from 1,058 married adults aged 33–83 (National Survey of Midlife in the U.S. (MIDUS), 2005).
Parental caregiving for a young or adult child with special needs (in contrast to no caregiving) was linked to poorer global health and more physical symptoms among both fathers and mothers. Father caregivers reported slightly more chronic conditions than noncaregiving men, regardless of marital quality. By contrast, mother caregivers reported a much higher number of chronic conditions when they also reported a high level of marital strain, but not when they reported a low level of marital strain.
Overall, results provide evidence from a national sample that midlife and older parents providing caregiving for a child with special needs are at risk for poorer health outcomes, and further tentatively suggest that greater marital strain may exacerbate health risks, particularly among married mother caregivers.
This research was supported by the National Institute on Aging (AG 20166).
Kang, S. and Marks, N.F. (2014), "Parental Caregiving for a Child with Special Needs, Marital Strain, and Physical Health: Evidence from National Survey of Midlife in the U.S. 2005", Family Relationships and Familial Responses to Health Issues (Contemporary Perspectives in Family Research, Vol. 8A), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 183-209. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1530-35352014000008A006
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