APH 2008, 66, 35-45:

Emotional distress among family caregivers in Canada: longitudinal analysis of the national population health survey

JI Cameron, DE Stewart, GA Tomlinson, RL Franche, I Hyman, AM Cheung

Keywords: caregivers, depression, public health, longitudinal survey

Objectives: The emotional health of family members providing care in the community to individu-als with disability is a vital public health concern as our population ages and more care is provided in the community. The objectives of this study were to determine factors associated with family caregivers’ mental health and compare their mental health to a matched non-care-giving group using a large, representative, and longitudinal database representing a broad spec-trum of disabilities.


Methods: We used Canada’s longitudinal National Population Health Survey (NPHS) to identify a family caregiver group (n = 800) and a non-care-giving group (n = 748), matched with respect to sex, age, education, and marital status. Standardized measures included Kessler’s Emotional Distress Scale, Health Utilities Index, Self-Reported Health, Mastery, and Self-esteem. Mixed effects models for longitudinal data analysis were used.


Main Findings: Caregivers experienced more emotional distress if they were male, younger, had lower personal mastery, were in poorer general and subjective health, or were providing care to individuals with more co-morbidity. No significant differences were observed between caregivers and a matched non-care-giving sample in emotional distress after controlling for potential differ-ences between groups.