Changes Over Time in the Health of Caregivers of Children With Health Problems: Growth-Curve Findings From a 10-Year Canadian Population-Based Study
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OBJECTIVES: We used Canadian population-based data to examine changes in the health of caregivers of children with complex health problems compared with caregivers of healthy children over a 10-year time period. METHODS: The National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth collected data biennially from 9401 children and their caregivers in 6 waves from 1994-1995 to 2004-2005. We conducted growth-curve analyses of these data to model self-reported general health and depressive symptoms for 4 groups of caregivers: caregivers of healthy children, and caregivers of children with 1, 2, or at least 3 of 4 conceptually distinct indicators of child health problems. We modeled covariates for children (age, gender, only-child status) and caregivers (age, gender, education, income, marital status). RESULTS: After we controlled for covariates, caregiver health outcomes worsened incrementally with increasing complexity of child health problems. Change in self-reported general health and depressive symptoms over the 10-year period was consistent across all groups of caregivers. CONCLUSIONS: Poorer health among caregivers of children with health problems can persist for many years and is associated with complexity of child health problems. Attention to parental health should form a component of health care services for children with health problems.
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