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Impact of informal caregiving on depressive symptoms among a national cohort of men
  1. Tania L King1,
  2. Peter P Vitaliano2,
  3. Humaira Maheen1,
  4. Yamna Taouk1
  1. 1Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
  1. Correspondence to Associate Professor Tania L King, Centre for Health Equity, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia; tking{at}unimelb.edu.au

Abstract

Background There is evidence that unpaid caregiving can have negative effects on the mental health of female caregivers; however, evidence of impacts on male caregivers is limited. This study addressed this gap by examining associations between becoming a caregiver and depressive symptoms among men.

Methods We used data from waves 1–2 (2013, 2016) of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Male Health (Ten to Men). Effects of incident caregiving on depressive symptoms were estimated using augmented inverse probability treatment weighting, with adjustment for potential confounders. Incident caregiving was assessed as a binary variable (became a caregiver vs not), and depressive symptoms were measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire (moderate to severe depressive symptoms; yes, no). Main analysis was prospective, drawing on wave 1 (caregiving) and wave 2 (depressive symptoms), and sensitivity analyses modelled cross-sectional associations.

Results In the main analysis, incident caregiving in wave 1 was associated with depressive symptoms in the subsequent wave, with an average treatment effect of 0.11 (95% CI 0.06, 0.17) and equating to a risk ratio of 2.03 (95% CI 1.55, 2.51). Associations were robust to several sensitivity analyses, with cross-sectional associations supporting the main prospective analyses.

Conclusion These results provide evidence of the association between caregiving and depressive symptoms among male caregivers. This has important implications for policy and support programmes. As we seek to shift caregiving responsibilities toward a more gender-equal distribution of care, policy must recognise that, like female caregivers, male caregivers also experience mental health impacts related to their caregiving role.

  • EPIDEMIOLOGY
  • Health inequalities
  • LONGITUDINAL STUDIES
  • MENTAL HEALTH

Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. The data that support the findings of this study are available from Dataverse, managed by the Australian Data Archive. Restrictions apply to the availability of these data, and interested users may apply for data from https://dataverse.ada.edu.au/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.26193/VTCZFF.

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Data availability statement

Data may be obtained from a third party and are not publicly available. The data that support the findings of this study are available from Dataverse, managed by the Australian Data Archive. Restrictions apply to the availability of these data, and interested users may apply for data from https://dataverse.ada.edu.au/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.26193/VTCZFF.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors TLK acquired the funding, conceived the study, carried out the analysis and wrote the paper. YT, HM and PV contributed to analytical design, interpretation of findings, and review and revision of drafts. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript. TLK is the guarantor for this work.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Australian Research Council (TLK: DE200100607).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.