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Int J Aging Hum Dev. 2018 Jan 1:91415018754310. doi: 10.1177/0091415018754310. [Epub ahead of print]

Depression Associated With Transitions Into and Out of Spousal Caregiving.

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1 Graduate 436523 School of Public Health and Health Policy, City University of New York , NY, USA.
2 Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
3 Graduate Center, City University of New York, NY, USA.


This study investigates depressive symptoms among spousal caregivers in three groups: those who become caregivers, those who continue care, and those who exit caregiving, compared with those who remain non-caregivers. We also examine depressive symptoms among widowed caregivers by length of bereavement. We use four waves of the U.S. Health and Retirement Study (2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012), for a total of 43,262 observations. Findings show elevated levels of depressive symptoms for new caregivers, continuing caregivers, and exit caregivers. Among exit caregivers, symptoms were elevated when measured in the first 15 months after the spouse's death but declined thereafter. These findings add to the evidence that spousal caregiving carries a risk for depression, and symptoms are likely to peak near the end of the caregiving episode. These results underscore the need to provide support to newly widowed individuals.


caregiver burden; caregiving transition; widowhood


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