Health status of early adolescent non-caregivers and caregivers of a family member
The purpose of this study was to determine the differences in health status between early adolescent noncaregivers and caregivers of a family member. Specifically, the study evaluated how the variables of length of time as a caregiver and gender affect the early adolescent caregiver's health status. Three hypotheses guided the study: 1. A greater proportion of early adolescent caregivers will be classified as having poor health status than those who are noncaregivers. 2. Early adolescent caregivers will demonstrate greater depression than early adolescent noncaregivers. 3. The health status of early adolescent caregivers can be accurately predicted by the variables of caregiver's age, length of time as a caregiver, socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, and level of caregiving responsibility.
The study involved a descriptive cross-sectional exploratory design that compared early adolescent noncaregivers to caregivers of a family member. Health status was determined by the Child Health and Illness Profile – Adolescent Edition, which is self-report. Depression was measured using the self-report Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale – Child. Information regarding caregiving activities and the family member was obtained with the self-report Caregiving Responsibilities survey.
Findings revealed that there was no difference in the proportion of noncaregivers and caregivers with poor health status. Caregivers did experience depression to a greater extent than the noncaregivers, p < .05. Depression was negatively correlated with having poor health status. The predictors of gender and length of time as a caregiver were not statistically significant in predicting health status of caregivers. However, depression scores were statistically significant p < .001, for predicting poor health status of all the participants. Caregivers do not receive training for their caregiving tasks. Early adolescent caregivers reported being a caregiver multiple times for a family member.
The implications of this study for nursing are that young caregivers need to be identified and then assessed for depression. Caregivers need to be trained how to properly perform caregiving tasks. Access to large groups of children is only possible through the school setting. Therefore, the problems of young caregivers need to be addressed in partnership with education. Additionally, there are implications for national health care policy.