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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Published online: January 31, 2013
Accepted: October 12, 2012
Received in revised form: September 26, 2012
Received: May 24, 2012
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© 2014 American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.