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J Epidemiol. 2016 Dec 5;26(12):622-628. Epub 2016 May 14.

Informal and Formal Social Support and Caregiver Burden: The AGES Caregiver Survey.

Author information

1
Departments of Health and Social Behavior/Health Education and Health Sociology, School of Public Health, The University of Tokyo.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

We examined the associations of informal (eg, family members and friends) and formal (eg, physician and visiting nurses) social support with caregiver's burden in long-term care and the relationship between the number of available sources of social support and caregiver burden.

METHODS:

We conducted a mail-in survey in 2003 and used data of 2998 main caregivers of frail older adults in Aichi, Japan. We used a validated scale to assess caregiver burden.

RESULTS:

Multiple linear regression demonstrated that, after controlling for caregivers' sociodemographic and other characteristics, informal social support was significantly associated with lower caregiver burden (β = -1.59, P < 0.0001), while formal support was not (β = -0.30, P = 0.39). Evaluating the associations by specific sources of social support, informal social supports from the caregiver's family living together (β = -0.71, P < 0.0001) and from relatives (β = -0.61, P = 0.001) were associated with lower caregiver burden, whereas formal social support was associated with lower caregiver burden only if it was from family physicians (β = -0.56, P = 0.001). Compared to caregivers without informal support, those who had one support (β = -1.62, P < 0.0001) and two or more supports (β = -1.55, P < 0.0001) had significantly lower burden. This association was not observed for formal support.

CONCLUSIONS:

Social support from intimate social relationships may positively affect caregivers' psychological wellbeing independent of the receipt of formal social support, resulting in less burden.

PMID:
27180934
PMCID:
PMC5121430
DOI:
10.2188/jea.JE20150263
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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