Does informal caregiving affect self-esteem? Results from a population-based study of individuals aged 40 and over in Germany from 2002 to 2014

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Abstract

Background

While it is known that informal caregiving is associated with care-derived self-esteem cross-sectionally, little is known about the impact of informal caregiving on general self-esteem longitudinally. Thus, we aimed at examining whether informal caregiving affects general self-esteem using a longitudinal approach.

Methods

Data were gathered from a population-based sample of community-dwelling individuals aged 40 and over in Germany from 2002 to 2014 (n = 21 271). General self-esteem was quantified using the Rosenberg scale. Individuals were asked whether they provide informal care regularly.

Results

Fixed effects regressions showed no significant effect of informal caregiving on general self-esteem longitudinally. General self-esteem decreased with increasing morbidity, increasing age, decreasing social ties, whereas it was not associated with changes in employment status, marital status and body mass index. Additional models showed that decreases in self-esteem were associated with decreases in functional health and increases in depressive symptoms.

Conclusion

Our longitudinal study emphasises that the occurrence of informal caregiving did not affect general self-esteem longitudinally. Further research is needed in other cultural settings using panel data methods.

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