Associations between spousal caregiving and health among older adults in Mexico: A targeted estimation approach

Jacqueline M. Torres, Uchechi A. Mitchell, Oleg Sofrygin, Kara E. Rudolph, Mariana López-Ortega, Mienah Z. Sharif, Rebeca Wong, M. Maria Glymour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate associations between spousal caregiving and mental and physical health among older adults in Mexico. Methods: Data come from the Mexican Health & Aging Study, a national population-based study of adults ≥50 years and their spouses (2001–2015). We compared outcomes for spousal caregivers to outcomes for those whose spouses had difficulty with at least one basic or instrumental activity of daily living (I/ADL) but were not providing care; the control group conventionally includes all married respondents regardless of spouse's need for care. We used targeted maximum likelihood estimation to evaluate the associations with past-week depressive symptoms, lower-body functional limitations, and chronic health conditions. Results: At baseline, 846 women and 629 men had a spouse with ≥1 I/ADL. Of these, 60.9% of women and 52.6% of men were spousal caregivers. Spousal caregiving was associated with more past-week depressive symptoms for men (Marginal Risk Difference (RD): 0.27, 95% confidence internal [CI]: 0.03, 0.51) and women (RD: 0.15, 95% CI: 0.07, 0.23). We could not draw conclusions about associations with lower-body functional limitations and chronic health conditions. On average, all respondents whose spouses had caregiving needs had poorer health than the overall sample. Conclusion: We found evidence of an association between spousal caregiving and mental health among older Mexican adults with spouses who had need for care. However, our findings suggest that older adults who are both currently providing or at risk of providing spousal care may need targeted programs and policies to support health and long-term care needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)775-783
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • caregiver health
  • depressive symptoms
  • epidemiologic methods
  • spousal caregiving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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