Male and Female Partner-Caregivers' Burden: Does It Get Worse Over Time?

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Background and Objectives:
The general view is that partner-caregiver burden increases over time but findings are incon-sistent. Moreover, the pathways underlying caregiver burden may differ between men and women. This study examines to what degree and why partner-caregiver burden changes over time. It adopts Pearlin’s Caregiver Stress Process Model, as it is expected that higher primary and secondary stressors will increase burden and larger amounts of resources will lower
burden. Yet, the impact of stressors and resources may change over time. The wear-and-tear model predicts an increase of burden due to a stronger impact of stressors and lower impact of resources over time. Alternatively, the adaptation model predicts a decrease of burden due to a lower impact of stressors and higher impact of resources over time.Research Design and Methods:
We used 2 observations with a 1-year interval of 279 male and 443 female partner-caregiv-ers, derived from the Netherlands Older Persons and Informal Caregivers Survey Minimum Data Set. We applied multilevel regression analysis, stratified by gender.
Adjusted for all predictors, caregiver burden increased over time for both men and women. For female caregiv-ers, the impact of poor spousal health on burden increased and the impact of fulfillment decreased over time. Among male caregivers, the impact of predictors did not change over time.
Discussion and Implications:
The increase of burden over time supports the wear-and-tear model, in particular for women. This study highlights the need for gender-specific interventions that are focused on enabling older partners to be better
prepared for long-term partner-care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1103-1111
Number of pages9
JournalThe Gerontologist
Issue number6
Early online date12 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Caregiver stress
  • Gender differences
  • Healthcare policy
  • Informal caregiving
  • Spousal care


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