Regular Research Article| Volume 22, ISSUE 8, P766-770, August 2014

Does Duration of Spousal Caregiving Affect Risk of Depression Onset? Evidence from the Health and Retirement Study

Published:January 31, 2013DOI:


      To assess the association of current and long-term spousal caregiving with risk of depression in a nationally (U.S.) representative sample of older adults.


      We studied married and depression-free Health and Retirement Study respondents aged 50 years and older (n = 9,420) at baseline from 2000 to 2010. Current (≥14 hours per week of help with instrumental/activities of daily living for a spouse in the most recent biennial survey) and long-term caregiving (care at two consecutive surveys) were used to predict onset of elevated depressive symptoms (≥3 on a modified Centers for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale) with discrete-time hazards models and time-updated exposure and covariate information.


      Current caregiving was associated with significant elevations in risk of depression onset (hazard ratio: 1.64; Wald χ2, 1 df: 28.34; p <0.0001). Effect estimates for long-term caregiving were similar (hazard ratio: 1.52, Wald χ2, 1 df: 3.63; p = 0.06).


      Current spousal caregiving significantly predicted onset of depression; the association was not exacerbated by longer duration of caregiving.

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