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Hidden Caregivers: A Literature Review of Young Caregivers in the United States

Champlain, Kristin (2012) Hidden Caregivers: A Literature Review of Young Caregivers in the United States. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Young caregivers are a hidden subgroup among the caregiving population. Young caregivers provide significant assistance (often on a regular basis) to relatives or household members requiring help due to illness, disability, or substance misuse. There is no consensus at this time on the specific age range at which one can be considered a “young caregiver” versus an adult caregiver. Commonly, the age range used to define young caregivers is 18 years and younger or 25 years and younger. The prevalence of young caregivers in the United States is estimated to be 1.3-1.4 million child caregivers (age 8-18 years) as of 2005 and represented approximately 12-18 percent of the total caregiver population. Studies suggest that young caregiving is associated with increased risk for depression or anxiety, poor academic performance, poor socialization or lack of opportunity and more barriers to achieving future goals such as higher education. This paper used a critical review of the literature on young caregivers in the United States, specifically focused on a discussion of the challenges and benefits experienced by young caregivers. The literature review found barriers to services and future goals at various levels of the Social Ecological Model: individual, interpersonal, community, institutional, and policy. Within the literature, the common barriers of positive outcomes typically include: mental health status (rates of depression or anxiety), academic performance, caregiver burden, and developmental issues (or coping skills). Facilitators of positive outcomes most often researched include: self-esteem or pride, perceived familial relationships, and coping skills. The young caregiver population is likely to increase as time goes on and we are only seeing a glimpse of what is likely to increase in a unique caregiver population. Due smaller family sizes and childbearing in later years, children still in their formative years will be called upon their aging parents for care. The public health significance of identifying the challenges faced by young caregivers (and how their emotional and physical health is impacted) will assist in identifying ways to mitigate the negative impacts via interventions and make appropriate policy changes.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Champlain, Kristinkcc21@pitt.eduKCC21
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorFriedman, Markmsf11@pitt.eduMSF11
Committee MemberAlbert, Stevensmalbert@pitt.eduSMALBERT
Committee MemberSoska, Tracytsssw@pitt.eduTSSSW
Date: 24 September 2012
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 7 August 2012
Approval Date: 24 September 2012
Submission Date: 29 August 2012
Access Restriction: 3 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 3 years.
Number of Pages: 55
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: "young carers," "young caregivers," "caregiver," "caregiving"
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2012 15:09
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:02


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