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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Stress of Caregivers Varies Depending on Roles, BU Study Finds

Women who assist dependent relatives or friends with more activities of daily living report higher stress levels than those who perform fewer caregiving tasks, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers. And rather than adapting to their role, these “high-intensity” caregivers continue to be stressed over long periods of time — suggesting that they need targeted stress-reduction interventions.

The study, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, found that informal caregivers in “high-intensity” roles and those who transitioned from low- to high-intensity caregiving reported the highest stress of all caregiver groups. Meanwhile, women who stopped caregiving, regardless of the level of caregiving intensity, reported the same amount of stress as non-caregivers.

“These results contradict previous research that suggests that persons who are providing care for at least six months adapt to their role and experience less psychological distress over time,” the study found. “Considering the adverse health outcomes of chronic stress, our results emphasize the importance of directing stress-reduction interventions to high-intensity caregivers.”

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