NSFH 90

Transitions to Caregiving, Marital Disagreement, and Psychological Well-Being:
A Prospective U.S. National Study

Heejong Choi

Nadine F. Marks

Abstract

Guided by a life course perspective, this study investigated whether the psychological consequences of transitioning into a caregiver role for a biological parent, parent-in-law, spouse, other kin, or nonkin among married adults might be moderated by marital role quality. Using longitudinal data from a national sample of 1842 married adults aged 35 years and older, this study estimated regression models examining whether differences in marital disagreement predicted differences in change in global happiness, depressive symptoms, and personal mastery due to a transition into caregiving. Results indicated that the transition to caregiving compromised mental health outcomes for women biological parent caregivers and men spouse caregivers who reported a higher level of marital disagreement. These findings suggest that the psychological effects of becoming a caregiver for a biological parent or spouse are contingent on marital role quality.