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Health Effects of Caregiving: Studies of Helping Behavior Needed!

BROWN, STEPHANIE L. PHD

doi: 10.1097/01.ALCAT.0000281871.81270.eb
Well-Being and Being Safe: Finding A Balance

Previous research suggests that spousal caregiving causes health problems in the caregiver, including increased mortality risk. Yet, this conclusion is based on studies that do not measure helping behavior, but assume that caregiving must occur if someone in a marriage has a health problem. In this article, I highlight the need for research that disentangles the competing, and perhaps contradictory, psychosocial factors inherent in the caregiving experience. I review studies that suggest there are health benefits associated with helping others and describe the implications of a new theory of close relationships for understanding the caregiving experience.

Stephanie L. Brown, PhD, is currently an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine in the Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine at the University of Michigan. She is also a Health Research Scientist Specialist at the Ann Arbor VA.

Address correspondence to: Stephanie L. Brown, PhD, Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine, 300 N Ingalls, Room 7D-13, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. E-mail: stebrown@med.umich.edu.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.