Explaining the gender gap in the caregiving burden of partner caregivers

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Objectives: We examine gender differences in the experienced burden of partner caregivers using the stress-appraisal model. Gender differences can be explained by differences in conditions of burden (primary stressors, help from others, hours of caregiving, and secondary stressors) and how strong their effects are. Method: The data are from the Netherlands' Older Persons and Informal Caregivers Survey-Minimum Data Set (N = 1,611 caregivers). We examine mediation and moderation effects using structural equation modeling. Results: Women experience greater partner caregiver burden than men, which is related to women experiencing more secondary stressors (relational and financial problems, problems combining different tasks). For women and men alike, there is a positive association between burden and more primary stressors (partner's care need indicated by health impairment), help from other caregivers, and secondary stressors. For male caregivers, caregiving intensity also contributes to a greater burden. Discussion: This study corroborates the structural impact of gender on the conditions of as well as their effects on the partner caregiver burden. Reducing the hours of caregiving for male caregivers in severe care situations and helping female and male caregivers deal emotionally with the caregiving situation can reduce the partner caregiver burden.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-317
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology. Series B : Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date3 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2019


The work was supported by the National Care for the Elderly Program on behalf of the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw, Grant reference 310300002). This study makes use of data generated by the Older Persons and Caregivers Survey Minimum Dataset (TOPICS-MDS). A list of the investigators is available at www.topics-mds.eu.

FundersFunder number
National Care for the Elderly Program


    • Burden
    • Gender differences
    • caregiving
    • secondary stressors
    • spousal caregiving


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