Roles of age and sources of cancer caregiving stress in self-reported health and neuroendocrine biomarkers

Hannah Rose Mitchell, Youngmee Kim, Charles S. Carver, Maria M. Llabre, Amanda Ting, Armando J. Mendez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology and Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • aging
  • cancer caregivers
  • caregiver health
  • neuroendocrine stress biomarkers
  • psycho-oncology
  • stressor specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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