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Type: Thesis
Title: Measuring the health status of informal and family caregivers - how, what and why
Author: Stacey, Anne Florence
Issue Date: 2019
School/Discipline: Adelaide Medical School
Abstract: This research utilises data about adult informal family caregivers in South Australia, their prevalence over a period of two decades, and provides a review of their health and morbidity profiles between the years 2008 and 2015. The rationale for the study has come from increased epidemiological and clinical discussions on the impact of informal caregiving on the health status of family carers. The evidence suggests a proportion of carers may be at greater risk of poor health outcomes, however there are limited population-based studies that provide representative data on specific risk factors amongst carers. The research is based on a literature review and three separate analyses, resulting in manuscripts published in international journals. The 20-year prevalence estimates are featured in the first publication using representative state-wide surveys, (total N=26,788 and n=1,504 carers aged 16 years and over). An Age-Period Cohort (APC) analysis was undertaken to examine whether there were any generational effects on the prevalence of carers. The second publication, based on monthly state-wide surveys between 2010-2015, provided self-report data on carers’ health status, risk factors and chronic illnesses (N=35,195 participants and n=2,247 carers aged 18 years and over). The population attributable risk (PAR) of being a carer was examined for selected chronic conditions. The third paper examined carers drawn from a representative population-based longitudinal biomedical cohort study in metropolitan Adelaide (N=4056 participants and n=191 carers aged 40 years and over). Risk factors, chronic medical conditions and biomedical, health and demographic characteristics using self-report, clinic and laboratory measured variables were assessed – including haematology, biochemistry, Vitamin D, and the inflammatory biomarkers; high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP), Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha (TNFα) and Interleukin-6 (Il-6). This South Australian profile indicates that caregiving is associated with a small to moderate increased risk of having chronic conditions, especially diabetes and asthma in female carers. Findings from blood-measured variables revealed lower serum Vitamin D and haemoglobin levels in carers from the urban cohort study. Male carers had raised diastolic blood pressure, higher blood glucose, lower haemoglobin and albumin levels and slightly elevated inflammatory biomarkers TNFα and hs-CRP. The results of this study have provided in-depth empirical evidence of the types of medical health conditions experienced by carers, arguing the advantages of clinical assessments. Furthermore, it is proposed that the pathways of illness of both individuals within the caregiving dyad need to be assessed concurrently. Important as it is to monitor the prevalence of conditions that influence the burden of disease in the general population, it is also pertinent to monitor, measure and manage the health of the carers who provide the informal care, since they may be carrying a double burden of illness - that of the person they are looking after and their own health problems.
Advisor: Taylor, Anne
Gill, Tiffany
Price, Kay
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, Adelaide Medical School, 2020
Keywords: Informal family caregivers
health status
population research
Provenance: This thesis is currently under Embargo and not available.
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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