Trajectories of informal care and health

A Vlachantoni, J Robards, J Falkingham, M Evandrou
SSM—Population Health 2016, 2: 495-501
The evidence of the impact of informal care provision on the health of carers presents a complex and contested picture, depending on the characteristics of the care studied, including its duration, which has been relatively short in previous research (up to 4 years). Drawing on data from the Office for National Statistics Longitudinal Study, a 1% sample of linked Census records for respondents in England and Wales ( N =270,054), this paper contributes original insights on the impact of care provision on the carer's health ten years later. The paper explores differentials in self-reported health in 2011 between individuals according to their caring status at 2001 and 2011, and controlling for a range of demographic and socio-economic characteristics. The results show that individuals providing informal care in 2011 (regardless of carer status in 2001) exhibit lower odds of poor health in 2011 than those who did not provide care in both 2001 and 2011. Taking the intensity of care into account, 'heavy' carers in 2001 (i.e. caring for more than 20 h per week) who were not caring in 2011 show a higher likelihood of reporting poor health than non-carers, while those who were 'heavy' carers in both 2001 and 2011 are around one-third less likely to report poor health at 2011 compared to non-carers (2001 and 2011). These findings provide new insights in relation to repeat caring and its association with the carer's health status, further contributing to our understanding of the complex relationship between informal care provision and the carer's health.

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