Background: Many studies have assessed the impact of caregivers' work activities on the caregiver. There is growing concern about the ever-increasing problems, both physical and physiological, faced by health care workers who provide care for the ill and incapacitated.
Aim: The aim of the study was to examine what, if any, differences exist between male and female caregivers. This study primarily focused on caregivers who were taking care of a family member.
Method: Three hundred and eighty-eight caregivers (280 females and 108 males) were recruited from 16 randomly selected home-care agencies in Southern Taiwan. The participants completed the Chinese Health Questionnaire-12 and the Self-Rated Health Scale. They also completed questionnaires drawn up specifically for the purpose of this study.
Results: Compared to the male caregivers, the female caregivers more often reported they suffered from symptoms of lack of well being, a decrease in psychosocial health and overall self-rated health.
Conclusion: The results reiterate the importance of considering gender differentiation in the caregiving role. Major differences were found in the extent to which negative health consequences were experienced by the male and female caregivers. The results suggest that caregivers, especially female caregivers, urgently require adequate professional health care assistance in order to reduce the negative physical and physiological effects of caregiving on the health caregiver. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.