Perceived Gratitude, Role Overload, and Mental Health Among Spousal Caregivers of Older Adults

Suyoung Nah, Lynn M. Martire, Ruixue Zhaoyang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objectives: We investigated whether spousal caregivers' greater perception of being appreciated by their partner for their help was associated with caregivers' better mental health and whether caregivers' higher role overload was related to their poorer mental health. We further evaluated whether spousal caregivers' greater perceived gratitude buffered the association between their role overload and mental health. Methods: We examined 306 spousal caregivers of older adults with chronic illness or disability, drawn from the 2011 National Health and Aging Trends Study and National Study of Caregiving. We defined mental health as better psychological well-being and less psychological distress (i.e., fewer depressive and anxiety symptoms). Hierarchical regression models were estimated to test hypotheses. Results: Greater perceived gratitude was associated with better psychological well-being, and higher role overload was related to poorer psychological well-being and greater psychological distress. In addition, greater perceived gratitude buffered the associations between role overload and anxiety symptoms as well as psychological well-being. Discussion: Findings suggest that spousal caregivers' role overload may be a strong risk factor for their poorer mental health, especially when caregivers feel less appreciated by their partner. Couple-oriented interventions to improve spousal caregivers' mental health could be aimed at reducing their role overload and enhancing perceived gratitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-299
Number of pages5
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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