Objective: To investigate the extent to which age and specific sources of caregiving stress are associated with cancer caregivers’ health. Methods: New colorectal cancer caregivers (n = 88; age M = 49) reported caregiving stress (i.e., disrupted schedule, lacking family support, financial strain) and mental and physical health, and collected saliva samples assayed for neuroendocrine biomarkers (cortisol and α-amylase). Results: Disrupted daily schedule due to caregiving was associated with poorer self-reported mental health across all ages (B= −4.19, 95% CI: −6.59–−1.80, p <.01), and associated with dysregulated cortisol patterns among older caregivers, but with more regulated cortisol patterns among younger caregivers, ps ≤.01. Across all ages, lacking family support was associated with poorer self-reported physical health (B= −2.13, 95% CI: −4.33–−0.07, p <.05), but more regulated α-amylase patterns (B = 2.51, 95% CI: 0.83–4.19, p <.01). Financial strain related to regulated cortisol levels only among older caregivers (B = 5.07, 95% CI: 0.58–9.57, p =.03) and more regulated α-amylase patterns across all ages (B= −25.81, 95% CI: −48.72–−2.90, p <.05). Conclusion: Findings suggest that specific sources of caregiver stress manifest in health outcomes distinctly by age, and support the need for targeted psychosocial interventions for cancer caregivers.
- cancer caregivers
- caregiver health
- neuroendocrine stress biomarkers
- stressor specificity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Psychology
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health