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Informal caregiving and personality: Results of a population-based longitudinal study in Germany

Background: The aim of this study was to identify whether informal caregiving time is associated with personality factors longitudinally. Methods: Longitudinal data were gathered from the German Socio-Economic Panel (GSOEP), a large nationally representative, longitudinal study of German households beginning in 1984. Focusing on the association between informal caregiving and personality factors, data were used from the years 2005, 2009 and 2013. The GSOEP Big Five Inventory was used to assess personality factors. Informal caregiving hours were used as explanatory variable. The explanatory variable informal caregiving hours was categorized into 0 hours (reference), 1 hours, 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours, and 5 hours and more. Age, marital status, educational level, employment status, income, self-rated health and disability were included as potential confounders in regression analysis. Results: Adjusting for potential confounders, fixed effects regressions showed that whether or not someone provides informal care is markedly associated with changes in neuroticism. Given that an individual provides informal care, the actual number of care hours did not matter in most cases. Informal caregiving was not associated with openness to experience, extraversion and agreeableness. As regards conscientiousness, only ‘5 hours and more’ on a typical Sunday was associated with an increase in conscientiousness (β = .32, p < .05). Informal caregiving on a typical weekday or Saturday was not associated with changes in conscientiousness. Conclusion: Our findings stress the longitudinal association between informal caregiving and neuroticism.

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Public Library of Science
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Plos One
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