Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Johns Hopkins-led study shows increased life expectancy among family caregivers

16.10.2013
Findings contradict long-standing beliefs about caregiver stress

Contradicting long-standing conventional wisdom, results of a Johns Hopkins-led analysis of data previously gathered on more than 3,000 family caregivers suggests that those who assist a chronically ill or disabled family member enjoy an 18 percent survival advantage compared to statistically matched non-caregivers.

In a report, published in the current online version of the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found that providing care for a chronically ill or disabled family member not only fails to increase health risk, but also is associated with a nine-month extension in life expectancy over the six-year period of the study.

According to the Commission on Long-Term Care, family caregivers — the backbone of America's long-term care system — provide an estimated $450 billion in care and immeasurable support every year. An aging America means more demand for caregivers who help care for the elderly, but a looming shortage of caregivers could endanger many of the most vulnerable.

"Taking care of a chronically ill person in your family is often associated with stress, and caregiving has been previously linked to increased mortality rates," says first author, David L. Roth, Ph.D., director of the Johns Hopkins University Center on Aging and Health. "Our study provides important new information on the issue of whether informal family caregiving responsibilities are associated with higher or lower mortality rates as suggested by multiple conflicting previous studies."

Roth and his colleagues conducted an analysis of information gathered originally in the Reasons for Geographic and Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) study. That study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), looked at information from over 30,000 people, aged 45 years or older, to assess the excess stroke risk among African-Americans living in the nation's Southeastern "stroke belt." Dr. Roth's team studied whether 3,503 family caregivers from the REGARDS study showed differences in rates of death from all causes over a six-year period compared with a matched sample of 3,503 non-caregivers. The groups were matched using a measure based on 15 common variables that included demographics, health history and health behaviors.

According to Roth, theirs is the first study of its kind to show mortality effects for caregivers using this "propensity score matching" approach. "Although our findings are not entirely new, the statistical methods we used were unique and innovative and our large national database, which included a large number of African-American caregivers, is what really sets our research apart," he said.

Roth added that analyses of subgroups of caregivers were consistent with the findings for the overall group of caregivers. "We did not find any subgroup of caregivers in the REGARDS sample that appeared to be vulnerable to increased mortality risks. This includes our analyses of all spouse caregivers and of the spouse caregivers who report experiencing some caregiving strain," stated Roth.

"In many cases, caregivers report receiving benefits of enhanced self-esteem, recognition and gratitude from their care recipients. Thus, when caregiving is done willingly, at manageable levels, and with individuals who are capable of expressing gratitude, it is reasonable to expect that health benefits might accrue in those situations," added Roth.

Roth cautioned that his team's analysis had its limitations, and could not rule out the possibility that some subgroups of caregivers might be more vulnerable to increased risk of death. The limitations were mostly due to a lack of information on the functional status of the care recipients and the specifics of the care being provided.

"If highly stressful situations can be avoided or managed effectively, caregiving may actually offer some health benefits for both the care recipients and the caregivers, including reduced risk of death for those providing care," Roth said. "Negative public health and media portrayals of the risk of family caregiving may do a disservice by portraying caregiving as dangerous, and could potentially deter family members from taking on what can be a very satisfying and healthy family role. Public discussions of caregiving should more accurately balance the potential risks and gains of this universal family role."

Roth says future research should examine specific group of caregivers. "We need to research adult children who are providing regular care to a disabled parent, because this group is rapidly growing in size in our population, but largely understudied, at least in comparison to spouses," said Roth.

The research team included scientists from University of South Florida (Tampa, Fla.) and the University of Alabama (Birmingham, Ala.).

The study was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (Grants R01 NS045789 and R01 NS075047) and the Department of Health and Human Services (Cooperative Agreement U01 NS041588).

Related Web site:

Johns Hopkins Center on Aging and Health

Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM), headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, is a $6.7 billion integrated global health enterprise and one of the leading health care systems in the United States. JHM unites physicians and scientists of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with the organizations, health professionals and facilities of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System. JHM's vision, "Together, we will deliver the promise of medicine," is supported by its mission to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in medical education, research and clinical care. Diverse and inclusive, JHM educates medical students, scientists, health care professionals and the public; conducts biomedical research; and provides patient-centered medicine to prevent, diagnose and treat human illness. JHM operates six academic and community hospitals, four suburban health care and surgery centers, and more than 30 primary health care outpatient sites. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, opened in 1889, was ranked number one in the nation for 21 years in a row by U.S. News & World Report.

John Lazarou | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Strathclyde-led research develops world's highest gain high-power laser amplifier

The world's highest gain high power laser amplifier - by many orders of magnitude - has been developed in research led at the University of Strathclyde.

The researchers demonstrated the feasibility of using plasma to amplify short laser pulses of picojoule-level energy up to 100 millijoules, which is a 'gain'...

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New insights into the ancestors of all complex life

29.05.2017 | Earth Sciences

New photocatalyst speeds up the conversion of carbon dioxide into chemical resources

29.05.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA's SDO sees partial eclipse in space

29.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>