Author's School

Brown School of Social Work

Author's Department/Program

Social Work


English (en)

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Enola Proctor


Using a sample of African American family members from the National Survey of Families and Households: NSFH), this study explored the experience of caring for a family member with chronic illness. Guided by the Model of Family Stress, Adaptation, and Resiliency the study looked at the role that family stress and coping factors: specifically, resources, vulnerabilities, and coping behaviors) have on caregiver well-being. T-tests and chi-square analyses of the entire sample, both the caregivers and non-caregivers: N = 2390) revealed no significant differences, other than gender, between caregivers and non-caregivers across demographic, stressor, and coping factors. Caregivers were more likely to be female. Moreover, though a correlation did exist between caregiving and depression: using the CES-D depression scale), regression analyses revealed that this relationship was not significant when other independent family stressors, namely divorce and unemployment, are controlled for. Thus, caregiving as an independent family member stressor was not related to depression or other well-being indicators. Finally, an investigation of a subset of caregivers: N = 369) in the sample was conducted, via path analyses, to look at the relationship between model factors and caregiver well-being. Results revealed that caregiver vulnerabilities, particularly employment and caring for more than one ill member, were significantly related to health reports. Coping behaviors did not mediate these relationships. The results of this study suggest that the context of the caregiver's family life is directly related to their well-being, perhaps more so than coping behaviors. This has implications for future development of family-based support interventions.


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