Innovative Methods

Distressed caregiverIn addition to conducting studies specifically designed to investigate caregiving, a number of researchers have found ways to study caregiving within larger research projects on epidemiology and health. These projects have the major advantage of drawing on large, population based samples, inclusion of clinically relevant measures of health and biological functioning, and longitudinal follow up allowing for the prospective study of the effects of caregiving strain on incident disease and mortality.

Schulz and colleagues (e.g. Schulz & Beach, 1999) developed an ancillary study, the Caregiver Health Effects Study, that analyzed data from the larger Cardiovascular Health Study, studying the impact of caregiving strain on mortality.

Other studies have used the Nurses Health Study to identify the effects of caregiving on health (e.g., Lee et al., 2003).

Recently, Roth and colleagues have used the REasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study (a prospective study of stroke) to study the effects of caregiving using population-based measures (Haley et al., 2009; Roth et al, 2009).

References

Schulz, R. & Beach, S. R. (1999). Caregiving as a risk factor for mortality: The Caregiver Health Effects study. Journal of the American Medical Association, 282, 2215-2219.

Lee, S., Colditz, G. A., Berkman, L. F., & Kawach,i I. (2003). Caregiving and risk of coronary heart disease in U.S. women: A prospective study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 24, 113–9.

Haley, W. E., Allen, J. Y., Grant, J. S., Clay, O. J., Perkins, M., & Roth, D. L. (2009). Problems and benefits reported by stroke family caregivers: Results from a prospective epidemiological study. Stroke, 40, 2129-2133.

Roth, D. L., Perkins, M., Wadley, V. G., Temple, E., & Haley, W. E. (2009). Family caregiving and emotional strain: Associations with psychological health in a national sample of community-dwelling middle-aged and older adults. Quality of Life Research, 18, 679- 688.