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The effects of leisure on stress and health of family caregivers

The number of older adults is projected to grow significantly by 2050. Predictions also suggest that living longer but not healthier lives will increase the demand for family caregivers as well. Regrettably, caregivers in comparison with noncaregivers will likely continue to experience higher levels of stress, poorer health, and increased propensity for using unhealthy behaviors to address their stress. This study used mediation analysis to examine the relationship among 3 leisure variables, perceived stress, and self-reported general health (SRGH) of family caregivers (n = 240) who completed an online survey. Results indicated that individually, each of the 3 leisure variables was positively associated with higher SRGH. Results also showed that perceived stress significantly predicted SRGH. Of greater significance, however, was the observation that perceived stress was significantly predicted by both satisfaction with time for leisure and satisfaction with the quality of the leisure experience but not by leisure participation. Thus, the variables that addressed caregivers' satisfaction with both the time for leisure and with the quality of the leisure experience were more effective than mere leisure participation to reduce perceived stress and ultimately provide better self-reports of health. These results are consistent with the literature about the ability of leisure to cope with stress. More importantly, they provide strong support for the design and implementation of interventions to help caregivers develop meaningful leisure-based activities to reduce perceived stress.

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Type of Reference
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Journal article
American Psychological Association
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Journal Titles
International Journal of Stress Management
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