The impact of carer status on participation in healthy activity and self-reported health among Australian women over 50 years
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© 2018 Occupational Therapy Australia Background/aim: Occupational therapists frequently work with carers and their family member who requires direct services. In Australia, women provide the majority of informal care. Carer status is determined by the provision of informal help or supervision to an older person, or a person with a disability or long-term health condition. Caregiving responsibilities can impact mental and physical health and reduce women's participation in leisure activities and the labour force. The aim of the study was to examine differences in the participation of Australian women, aged 50 years and over, with and without caregiving responsibilities, in self-selected health promoting activities, self-reported mental health and participation in physical activity. Methods: This cross-sectional study investigated Australian women (N = 157) who completed a survey comprising demographic questions, the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales-21 (DASS-21), International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short Form (IPAQ-SF) and the Health Promoting Activities Scale (HPAS). Differences between carers and non-carers in participation in health promoting activities, mental health, physical activity and labour force participation were investigated using Mann–Whitney U and Kruskal–Wallis tests. Results: Carers reported significantly lower participation in health promoting activities (P < 0.001), vigorous physical activity (P = 0.001) and moderate physical activity (P = 0.009). Carers also reported significantly higher responses than non-carers, in symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress (P < 0.001). Carers were significantly more likely than non-carers to be engaged in part-time employment, with 37% of carers employed part-time and 44% of carers not working. Conclusion: These findings indicate significant differences between women with and without caregiving responsibilities and their participation in health promoting activities, self-reported mental health, participation in physical activity and the labour force. Carers may benefit from occupational therapy that recognises the important role of carers in the life of their family member and supports carer's health and participation in health promoting activities.
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