Gender Differences among Informal Caregivers

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Abstract

The purpose of this work is to assess whether societal change associated with gender roles, familial structure, and race have affected caregiving. We examined differences by gender, familial relation, and race among 467 caregivers utilizing an online portal to access caregiving services. A retrospective, cross-sectional analysis is used to assess the impact of societal changes on caregiving. Twenty percent of caregivers were male. No gender differences were observed in the amount and caregiving tasks provided. More females reported severe levels of burden (p = 0.013), and we saw no differences in physical health and social connectedness. Compared to adult children, spouses provided higher amounts of care but no differences in burden, physical health, and social connectedness were found. Racial minorities were more socially isolated among female (p = 0.041) and male (p = 0.025) caregivers compared to white caregivers. Few gender differences were observed, suggesting that men and women caregivers were facing similar caregiving situations as a result of changing gender norms. More adult children than spouses were providing care suggesting that changing familial structure in the United States is influencing caregiving roles. Finally, racial minorities were more vulnerable to social isolation compared to white caregivers, suggesting possible disparities in the caregiver experience. More research should be done to understand how societal change is affecting the nature of caregiving, caregiver outcomes, and the implications for provision of supportive services.