BACKGROUND: Gender differences in spousal caregivers and their relationship to care experiences, social demographics, and caregivers' depression were examined.
METHODS: A stratified random sample of 2,020 users of public long-term care insurance in a city of Osaka prefecture, Japan, participated in this study. Responses from 308 spouses (56.2% wives, 43.8% husbands) were analyzed. Variables relating to care experiences, social demographics, and caregivers' depression were compared by conducting simultaneous analyses of multiple populations.
RESULTS: Wives caring for husbands had higher depression scores than husbands caring for wives. Wives tended to adopt "emotional support seeking" and "willing commitment" as coping strategies for their caregiving experience. Husband caregivers used more home-care services; however, increased service use had no effect on husbands' depression. The availability of secondary caregivers reduced depression for caregivers, regardless of gender.
CONCLUSIONS: The effects on depression differed related to the caregiver's gender. Husbands relied more on family or home-care services when caring for their wives, whereas wives provided higher levels of care, positively accepted their role, and did not seek to share caregiving, but sought emotional support.
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